As you might know by now, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has sacked uncle and party chief Shivpal Yadav and three others from the state cabinet. In response, Rajya Sabha MP Ram Gopal Yadav was expelled from the party on the grounds that he was conspiring with the BJP.

In case you're tuning in late, here are the major players in this epic family drama that comes at the worst time for the Samajwadi Party that is already facing a tough election in Uttar Pradesh next year.

Akhilesh Yadav

Akhilesh Yadav has been standing his ground on various issues | Source: PTI

He became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh after being credited with the party's victory in the 2012 state elections. But as elections have drawn close, Akhilesh has sought to enforce his authority in the party, only to spark a bitter family feud.

Why he matters: Akhilesh is not just the chief minister but is also the party's connect with the youth. He prides himself on his connection with the rank and file of the party and the youth.

So what has Akhilesh done to drive his uncle and father against him?

  • He openly opposed the alliance with gangster Mukhtar Ansari-led part Quami Ekta Dal that led to it being broken intially
  • He took away the public works department ministry from uncle Shivpal Yadav's on September 13. Even after he was brought back he didn't give his uncle the portfolio back immediately.
  • He has criticised 'outsiders' for messing up things in the party. The 'outsider' barb was reportedly targeted at Amar Singh
  • He was said to be planning his own 'Vikas Rath Yatra' in the state and would skip the party's silver jubilee celebrations
  • He sacked Shivpal Yadav from the cabinet again on October 23

Shivpal Yadav

Shivpal has been his brother's aide for years | Source: PTI

Mulayam Singh's younger brother has been at the centre of the whole controversy. Even before he was expelled from the Samajwadi Party for his proximity to Amar Singh, he had been on the wrong side of Akhilesh Yadav multiple times.

Why he matters: He's a four-time MLA but has been a part of the Samajwadi Party and has been part of the party's organisational politics for decades. He's the man, who's said to be behind the party's organisation and mass base.

Here's how he's been engaged in a running battle with Akhilesh Yadav:

  • He engineered the alliance with the Quami Ekta Dal and brought back Amar Singh into the party
  • He was removed as public works department minister in September and responded by quitting as state party chief and minister
  • He sacked seven close associates of Akhilesh, including three Members of the Legislative Council after being reinstated as party chief. Akhilesh later accomodated them in his campaign team.
  • He allocated tickets to nine new candidates and the replacement of 17 previously named candidates

Amar Singh

Amar Singh had been booted out of the party earlier | Source: PTI

The man who's said to be behind the entire family fued is sitting tight and very silent for now. Once a key aide to Mulayam Singh Yadav, he found himself kicked out of the party ahead of the 2012 election.

He formed his own party, suffered humiliating defeats in 2012 and 2014, did some somewhat indecent things on national television and seemed to be relegated to the sidelines.

Why he matters: He is the party's fund raiser and connection to powers outside the political sphere. Is also adept at building alliances with unlikely allies.

But in 2015 he got a lifeline, when he was called back in the party for seemingly no reason.

So how is Amar Singh suddenly so powerful?

  • He's got the backing of Shivpal Yadav, who is said to have engineered his return
  • He is said to be the party's connection with corporates and celebrities, both of whom might be needed to try save the Samajwadi Party in the upcoming elections
  • He has managed to get the Samajwadi Party into alliances with the Congress and other parties in the past and might be able to help Mulayam Singh try create a Bihar-like anti-BJP alliance in the state.

Mulayam Singh Yadav

Can Mulayam resolve all differences ahead of the polls? | Source: PTI

The head of the Samajwadi Party hasn't exactly been charitable to his son throughout his tenure as chief minister, criticising the working of the state government multiple times during its tenure.

Why he matters: The party patriarch was not in the best of health earlier but is fit and fine now. Has long standing ties with other political parties that can be leveraged to try stay in power.

But with the party imploding just before the election what is the party patriarch doing?

  • The Samajwadi Party chief is said to be trying to stitch an alliance with the Congress and Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal to try hold on to power
  • He has been trying to achieve a balance between the warring factions of Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav
  • He is defending the inclusion of Amar Singh in the party despite criticism from his son and cousin. Amar Singh's famed fund raising abilities might be crucial ahead of a tough poll and the party chief doesn't seem inclined to losing that advantage.

Ram Gopal Yadav

The cousin of Mulayam Singh Yadav has been the voice of the party but seems to be paying the price for his proximity to Akhilesh Yadav. Despite not having a mass support base, he has been the voice of the party in the Rajya Sabha but now finds himself out of the party for the next six years.

Why he matters: No voter base but has been the party's voice in the Rajya Sabha. Is also said to wield a disproportionate amount of influence in Uttar Pradesh's areas bordering Delhi.

So what did he do to anger the party top brass?

  • He has constantly stood by Akhilesh through various issues.
  • He has been a rival of Amar Singh for years and has backed Akhilesh against him
  • He also reportedly made Amar Singh sit on the back benches of the Rajya Sabha and didn't let him speak, something that the national general secretary of the party didn't take kindly too