Battle lines are clearly drawn in the Yadav clan of Uttar Pradesh for establishing supremacy and control over the Samajwadi Party’s base vote bank. Estranged uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, who recently floated his new front, has clearly dug in his feet on this and related issues.

Nephew and party president Akhilesh Yadav is also leaving no stone unturned to ensure that his grip over the party doesn’t loosen. Caught in this crossfire, is patron and SP founder member Mulayam Singh Yadav who is maintaining a stoic silence on the recent developments.

Former minister and Jaswantnagar MLA Shivpal Singh Yadav last Friday announced the formation of the Samajwadi Secular Morcha which he said was intended to bring like-minded political parties together. Shortly after in his home district, Etawah, he said the Morcha will contest all the 80 parliamentary seats of Uttar Pradesh.

On Friday posters and hoardings surfaced on the streets of the state capital, including on the Vikramaditya Marg, where the SP office is located, hailing the Morcha. What caught the eye were the large photographs of Shivpal Yadav and his son Aditya Yadav which completely dwarfed the small picture of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The import of the hoardings and posters viewed as the launch of the Morcha’s publicity campaign was not lost on any. It came close on the heels of former SP MLA and two-time MP Raghuraj Singh Shakya announcing his joining and support to Shivpal. Another former MLA from Dumariyaganj has also pledged his support to the Morcha. Reports of the disgruntled and sidelined members of the SP making a beeline for the newly-formed front have started trickling in.

Shivpal, who is currently in Kathmandu, to attend a seminar organised by the International Federation of Yadav Chamber of Commerce has not gone official about it, but the buzz is afloat of the Morcha being converted into a political party early next month. He is also expected to begin his political campaign beginning 11 September.

That the Jaswantnagar MLA has virtually cut off all association with the Akhilesh Yadav-run SP became clear when he took off the party flag from his vehicle. He followed this up by dropping the `senior Samajwadi Party leader’ from his Facebook and Twitter accounts and instead called himself the `leader of the Samajwadi Secular Morcha’.

Akhilesh Yadav, on the other hand, reacted to the further estrangement of his uncle and the formation of the Morcha, by saying that it will dilute the charge of `pariwarwaad’ applied on the Yadav clan. Sources close to him said his whole focus is on the larger issues and preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The party president is expected to take out a cycle yatra this month, to galvanise support and pep up his workers. Meetings of different cells of the SP, presided over by Akhilesh Yadav are being held at the party office.

While Mulayam has maintained a silence over the formation of the Morcha by his brother, he is reportedly not amused by this development. In what is being seen as a support for his son Akhilesh, the SP patron visited the party headquarters twice after Shivpal made the announcement of the Morcha.

In the ongoing Yadav feud, BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pandey has reportedly praised Shivpal Yadav and called him a grassroots level leader. Tongues are wagging that the BJP has played a behind-the-scenes role in the formation and projection of the Morcha as an alternative to the SP. A fractured opposition or a weakened Mahagathbandhan (if it takes shape) is what the BJP is looking for in elections 2019 in Uttar Pradesh.