SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday said he would contest against Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in the assembly elections if he does not "listen" to him, seeking to wield the stick after the chief ministership carrot failed to make his rebellious son fall in line.
With chances of a rapprochement between the two warring factions in the party receding with each passing day, Mulayam accused Akhilesh of having a "negative approach" towards Muslims, a loyal vote bank of the Samajwadi Party for years.
"Akhilesh is acting at the behest of Ramgopal (Yadav). If he does not listen, I will fight against him," Mulayam, a Lok Sabha member from Azamgarh, told party workers. Ram Gopal, a member of the Rajya Sabha and Mulayam's cousin, has sided with Akhilesh in his fight for control over the party. The SP founder alleged that Akhilesh had a "negative approach" towards Muslims and that he was playing into the hands of Ramgopal Yadav, who was working "on directions of BJP".
"I will live for Muslims and die for them. When it comes to Muslims' interest, I will also fight against him (Akhilesh)", he said.
"I have always stood for protecting the interest of the Muslims. When I ensured appointment of a Muslim as the state's Director General of Police (DGP), Akhilesh did not talk to me for 15 days. He did not want any Muslim on this post. It sent an anti-Muslim message," Mulayam said.
The Samajwadi Party supremo said he had made many sacrifices to build the party and Akhilesh sacked several ministers including a woman without valid reasons. Mulayam had sprung a surprise earlier this month when he said Akhilesh will be the chief minister if party retained power after the assembly elections, extending an olive branch to his recalcitrant son.
However, Akhilesh and Ramgopal Yadav, a key strategist of the party, have steadfastly rejected the overture. Akhilesh reportedly demanded that he be allowed to continue to lead the party for the next three months, a demand that was rejected by Mulayam.
Amid reports that the Akhilesh camp enjoyed support of a majority of party delegates, MPs and legislators, Mulayam indicated he may move the court if the party's name and election symbol was allotted to the rival camp by the Election Commission.
Mulayam said it was up to the EC to decide on it but the fight will "reach the court". Earlier in the day, Mulayam reached the residence of his younger brother and state SP president Shivpal Yadav.
Interestingly, he also called Naresh Uttam, who has been appointed party state president by Akhilesh, and he was present during Mulayam's address to party men. Mulayam said he was trying his best to save the party and slammed Akhilesh for "not understanding things".