Lucknow: Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday ruled out forming any new party "as of now", putting a lid on speculation that he could part ways amid the continuing battle for supremacy in the party.
Blowing hot and cold, the Samajwadi patriarch said his blessings were with his son Akhilesh Yadav though he did not agree with the decisions made by him.
"I am not forming any new party as of now," Mulayam said at a crowded press conference in Lucknow, responding to a volley of questions from mediapersons as to whether he was partying ways with the party he had formed 25 years ago.
Speculation was rife in political circles that the 77-year-old SP patriarch was likely to announce a new outfit at the press conference along with virtually defunct Lok Dal, while retaining the 'samajwadi' tag in its name.
Despite the bitter battle for supremacy in the party, Mulayam said, "My blessings are with him (Akhilesh Yadav) as he is my son, though I don't agree with his decisions."
"Baap bete me kab tak matbhed rah sakta hai, koi nahi keh sakta" (No one can say for sure how long differences will remain between father and son)," he said answering a question.
Interestingly, Mulayam's brother and comrade-in-arms Shivpal was not present at the press meet.
When asked about his absence, Mulayam said he was away in Etawah-Mainpuri - the Yadav bastion - for some important work.
Both Mulayam and Shivpal have been sidelined by Akhilesh ever since he snatched the crown of SP chief from his father at the party's national convention on January 1.
Mulayam said his son had promised to leave the post of party president after staying at the helm for three months, but he did not do so.
"People who cannot stand by their words cannot succeed," he said, adding, "jo baap ka na hua wo kiska nahi hoga" (one who cannot side with his father, will be of no one)," he said.
Asked as to whether he was with Akhilesh or Shivpal, his warring uncle, Mulayam parried a directly reply saying, "I am with samajwadi people."
He said that in the present circumstances, when people were suffering from back breaking price rise and the BJP has "failed" to fulfil its promises in the past three years, "it is high time all like-minded people should unite".
On being asked to comment on Akhilesh terming disgruntled leaders as "fake samajwadi", Mulayam said, "only he can tell who he is talking about."
As soon as Mulayam's press conference ended, Akhilesh tweeted, "netaji zinadabad, Samajwadi Party zindabad".
Ahead of the press meet, strains were palpable as Mulayam and Shivpal had stayed away from a state convention of the party on Saturday, saying they were not invited.
Posters at the SP convention in Lucknow did not have pictures of Mulayam and Shivpal, giving ample hints about their place in the party.
Mulayam had last week replaced Akhilesh-loyalist Ram Gopal with Shivpal Yadav as the secretary of the Lohia Trust, the venue of Monday's press conference.
Shivpal had announced in June that he would float the Samajwadi Secular Front "to fight communal forces".
Saturday's convention saw a realignment of forces within the SP as senior leader Azam Khan attended the event and lashed out at the "people who have betrayed the party", in an apparent reference to Shivpal, his one-time friend and confidant.
Another surprise presence was that of SP MP Beni Prasad Varma, whose inclusion in the party in 2016 was said to have triggered the battle within the family. To top it all, SP President Akhilesh Yadav in his address on Sunday cautioned his supporters against "fake samajwadis".
As in the past, Akhilesh had, however, struck an emotional note when he said, "Netaji (Mulayam) is my father and this party (SP) belongs to him. His blessings are with us and we will carry forward his legacy. My father has always been with us and will remain with us."
Taking full control of the party after being crowned as its head and allotted the 'bicycle' symbol by the EC on January 16, Akhilesh has been going full throttle consolidating his grip over the party....