Shivpal Singh throws in the towel, SP plunges in never before crisis

Lucknow: The bickering in the Yadav clan came out in open late on Thursday after Shivpal Singh Yadav resigned from the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet and also quitted as state party chief. Soon after he sent his resignation to his nephew Chief Minister, his son and Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Pradeshik Cooperative Federation, Aditya Yadav, also quit the post. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Chief Minister has returned the resignation of his uncle.  Close aides of the former PWD minister informed that Shivpal has returned all government perks and facilities, like official staff and vehicles, and will be vacating his official residence, 7, Kalidas Marg on Friday. Shivpal's official residence is adjacent to the official 5, Kalidas Marg, residence of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The development further shook the ruling party in the state with its stalwart leader Shivpal throwing in the towel and getting ready for a showdown. Shivpal Yadav took the decision to quit the cabinet and party post after a meeting with his elder brother and party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.  Akhilesh Yadav had on Tuesday stripped his uncle Shivpal from the plum posts of PWD, Cooperative and Irrigation minister. Earlier, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who reached the state capital in the evening, made it clear that under no circumstances would Shivpal be removed as the state unit president. Speaking informally to reporters in Delhi, Mulayam had called Shivpal, who is his younger brother, a grassroots leader who had a happy-go-lucky disposition. "I am sure things will be sorted out when Akhilesh and I speak across the table," he added.  Mulayam, who was received by Parliamentary Board member Kironmoy Nanda at the airport, left the airport without speaking to the waiting media.  However, sources say the SP supremo was unmoved at the plea of party national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav that he go soft on his Chief Minister son. A close aide said "Neta ji" was convinced that Akhilesh Yadav had challenged his authority when as a tit-for-tat, the Chief Minister divested Shivpal of all important portfolios. On Friday a meeting is likely to happen between Mulayam and Akhilesh and some major decision is likely to emerge to douse the flames threatening to decimate the party in the run up to the state assembly polls just a few months away. Earlier, Ram Gopal Yadav, who came to Lucknow as an emissary of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, was closeted for over an hour with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at his residence. Emerging out of the meeting, Ram Gopal Yadav expressed hope the crisis would be resolved at the earliest. In a moment of candour he also admitted that probably a mistake had been committed in removing Akhilesh as the party's state unit president. Ram Gopal Yadav said it would have been better had Mulayam Singh asked Akhilesh to step down rather than summarily removing him from the post he has held for the past five years. Later at a press interaction at the VVIP guest house where he is staying, the Rajya Sabha member indirectly hit out at his colleague Amar Singh as the "outsider" who was behind the crisis. Ram Gopal Yadav said everyone in the party and the cadre felt that Amar Singh had triggered the whole crisis for his own narrow and petty political gains. Singh, he added, had nothing to do with the party and its ideology and that he was only concerned about himself.  He said that party workers wanted Singh to be thrown out of the party yet again. With regards to Shivpal Singh Yadav, he said, there was no question of now removing him as the state party president since the decision was taken by "Neta ji" and that it was irrevocable. Asked if the power struggle in the family could be contained by reinstating all portfolios held by Shivpal to him again, Ram Gopal answered in the negative and said that a minister was a minister and that departments were of no consequence.  Shivpal Yadav, who reached the state capital in the afternoon along with his son Aditya Yadav, was received by hundreds of supporters at the airport. Addressing a hurriedly convened press conference, Shivpal said he was ready for "any and all sacrifices for the party" but added that for him Mulayam's word was final and that he was the party boss and the family patriarch.  He also called for unity in the family as elections were round the corner and everyone should work hard to ensure return of SP to power. He however cautioned that "Mulayam's decision dare not be challenged in the party". In a related development, former chief secretary Deepak Singhal, whose sudden removal is said to have triggered the whole controversy, was on Thursday posted as Chairman of State Vigilance Commission.  Sources say, Singhal who had been put on waiting list after his removal, was hurriedly posted to this new post so that the issue is closed for the time being. Mulayam Singh Yadav, hours after his removal, had asked Akhilesh to reinstate him, which he refused.