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SP splits as Akhilesh seeks to take control of party

PTI | Lucknow |

The Samajwadi Party on Sunday split with rival factions carrying out mutual expulsions as Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav sought to take control of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.

In dramatic developments, Akhilesh was "unanimously" crowned the SP president and his warring uncle Shivpal Yadav removed as state party chief at a national convention called by Ram Gopal Yadav, where the CM's faction claimed that over 200 of the party's 229 MLAs, around 30 MLCs, besides majority of office bearers of district units were present.

Ram Gopal also moved a proposal to make Mulayam Singh, the founder president of the party, as party patron while "outsider" Amar Singh was expelled from the party.

The proposal to make Akhilesh SP chief was welcomed by a huge applause by nearly 5,000 partymen who had gathered at the sprawling Janeshwar Misra Park here.

Mulayam soon struck back expelling his cousin Ram Gopal from the party for six years and termed as illegal all decisions taken at the convention.

In a hard-hitting letter, he said the convention had not been called with permission of the national president and so all decision taken there were illegal.

Although Mulayam warned that participation in the convention will be taken as indiscipline and action will be initiated against those attending it, almost all senior leaders who had been longtime associates of Mulayam shared the dais with Ram Gopal and Akhilesh.

Addressing the convention, Akhilesh said he respected his father more than ever and that he would stand against those conspiring against the party while Ramgopal attacked Shivpal for working in an "arbitrary" manner, alleging tickets were being given to those who are not even members of the party.

The convention also authorised Akhilesh to constitute a national executive, parliamentary board and various state units, as required, and inform the Election Commission of the developments at the earliest.

The fresh developments which almost left both Mulayam and younger brother Shivpal isolated in the party came a day after SP revoked the expulsion of Akhilesh and Ramgopal amid the running bitter turf battle in the Yadav clan which threatens to affect its prospects in the upcoming Assembly election.

In more signs of defiance, Akhilesh appointed MLC Naresh Uttam as the new state president, replacing Shivpal.

Mulayam retorted by expelling national vice president Kiranmoy Nanda and general secretary Naresh Agarwal from the party for taking part in the convention.

Soon after the appointment of the new state unit president, supporters of Akhilesh laid siege to the state SP headquarters here in the high security VIP zone and forcibly wrenched out the nameplate of Shivpal to vent their ire.