Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who is emerging as the big challenger to the BJP ahead of the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, has agreed to mend fences with his estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav.
The 66-year-old, who broke away from the Samajwadi Party ahead of the 2017 elections and formed his own party — the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia — has indicated for long that he is interested in an alliance. But there has been no reciprocation from his nephew.
After a meeting with his uncle in Lucknow today, Akhilesh Yadav announced the alliance.
“There was a meeting with the National President of PSPL and the matter of alliance was decided. The policy of taking regional parties along is continuously strengthening the SP and leading the SP and other allies to a historic victory,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Akhilesh Yadav, whose rallies have been drawing increasingly bigger crowds, has been interested in bringing as many smaller parties on board as possible. Already, he has effected tie-ups with Janwadi Party (Socialist), Om Prakash Rajbhar’s SBSP, Keshav Dev Maurya’s Mahan Dal, the Apna Dal faction led by Krishna Patel and Jayant Chowdhury’s Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Shivpal Yadav’s party has an influence on just a few seats in Etawah, but as a wily political veteran, his inputs are likely to help the Samajwadi Party strategy sessions.
Last month, Shivpal Yadav had again said he was ready for a “merger” if Akhilesh Yadav agrees to field Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party’s winning candidates in the assembly polls. Akhilesh Yadav, he had said, should take a call on the issue without delay.
“We are ready for any sacrifice to remove the BJP from power. If Akhilesh Yadav gives tickets to our winning candidates, we are ready for any sacrifice, including an unconditional merger with the SP,” Shivpal Yadav was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India at a rally in Barabanki.
Once the trusted younger brother of Mulayam Yadav and his de-facto second-in-command, Shivpal Yadav had clashed with his nephew ahead of the 2017 elections over leadership of the party.
After a messy tussle through January and February 2017, in which Mulayam Singh Yadav had sided with his brother, Akhilesh Yadav — who was also the Chief Minister at the time — had firmly established his grip on the party.
Shivpal Yadav, who broke away and formed his own party, lost the battle for the Samajwadi Party’s most valued possession, the cycle poll symbol.
The Great Divide within the first family was seen as another cause for the voters’ rejection of the Samajwadi Party, which had a tie-up with the Congress for the election.