Mulayam Singh Yadav’s ‘surprise’ presence at the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party’ s ‘janakrosh’ (public anger) rally here on Sunday did not deter his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav from indicating that there would be no turning back, or a possible rapprochement.

Even as Shivpal made it obvious that he had moved ahead from his days in the Samajwadi Party, and also made no bones of being humiliated, Mulayam’s ambiguous approach vis-a-vis his son and SP president Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal had left the party workers confused.

On Friday, the Samajwadi Party patron had shared the dais with his son at a public meeting in Firozabad district. Mulayam’s cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, who is said to be at loggerheads with Shivpal, and Firozabad MP, Akshay Yadav, were also present. The public meeting was held to mark the unveiling of Kargil war hero, Brij Lal’s statue in Kargha village.

Mulayam’s presence at the Firozabad rally marked another attempt to showcase his support for Akhilesh Yadav in the ongoing battle of supremacy in the Yadav clan. But, the wily politician despite speculations about his health sprang yet another surprise by attending the PSP’s ‘janakrosh’ rally at Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan here on Sunday. Reports had claimed that Mulayam had not been invited by Shivpal for the rally. It was said that Shivpal Singh Yadav, who had organised a function in Etawah on the occasion of Mulayam’s birthday on November 22, was dejected after “Netaji” gave it a miss. Mulayam instead visited the SP headquarters in Lucknow on that day.

Addressing the rally, which had the support of 40 parties under the banner of ‘secular front,’ Shivpal said the public meeting was to garner support for getting the country rid off the Bharatiya Janata Party. Clearly, the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party president’s present focus is on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and through the huge ‘janakrosh’ rally he aspired for a bigger role in UP’s politics.

Shivpal said his party wanted to take the struggle for social justice to the next level by soliciting the support of the most backward sections of the society.

Notwithstanding his criticism of the BJP led government at the centre, Shivpal dwelled on the causes which compelled him to part ways with the Samajwadi Party. He also took potshots at the SP leadership (read Ram Gopal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav) but without naming anyone. Stating that he had worked for 40 years with “Netaji,” the PSP president said he wanted to remain in the party and had never yearned for becoming either the chief minister or a minister.

Shivpal said all he wanted was that he should be given respect (“samman”). He said things had come to such a pass that he was forced to look out for fresh options. Shivpal reiterated that he had formed the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party with Mulayam’s permission. He blamed the vested interests and sycophants for the present state of affairs in the Samajwadi Party.

Mulayam’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav, who is married to his younger son Prateek Yadav, said the rally marked the day of change and the people will decide who to vote for in 2019.

One of Mulayam’s staunch loyalists and former minister, Bhagwati Singh, was also present at Shivpal’s rally.