Shivpal Yadav, the estranged uncle of Akhilesh Yadav who had allied himself with the Samajwadi Party ahead of the polls, today met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for what he described as a “courtesy visit”. The two had a 30-minute meeting, sources said. Though no details of the discussions were available, the optics of the meeting is expected to weigh against the Samajwadi Party, which is seen to be on a strong wicket after its hugely improved performance in the recently concluded assembly elections.
Sources close to Akhilesh Yadav said the uncle and nephew had a fallout of sorts when they met last on March 24.
“Shivpal Yadav had asked for a bigger organisational role but Akhilesh Yadav had suggested that Shivpal expand his political party Pragatisheel Samajwadi party with support of SP,” sources told NDTV.
While Shivpal Yadav formed his own political party ahead of the 2017 assembly election over control of the party, he is still said to have considerable heft within the SP.
The six-time MLA had contested on a Samajwadi Party ticket from Jaswant Nagar seat of Etawah, but there is speculation that he might pull away at least five MLAs from the SP if he chooses to side with the BJP.
The focus now being on the 2024 general elections, any leaning towards the BJP by Shivpal Yadav is likely to count against Akhilesh Yadav.
The former Chief Minister has managed to establish himself as the only opposition to the BJP this time, turning the traditional multi-cornered contests in the state to a bipolar one.
The Samajwadi Party had suffered considerable loss of face ahead of the election when Akhilesh Yadav’s sister-in-law Aparna Yadav — the wife of his brother Prateek Yadav — had quit the SP and joined the BJP.
The state BJP had tried to capitalise on the issue, claiming Mulayam Singh Yadav is not with the Samajwadi Party from his heart and his blessings are with his daughter-in-law’s party.
The Samajwadi Party had won 125 seats in the election, up from 47 of 2017. Akhilesh Yadav has quit his parliamentary seat to focus on the state ahead of the 2024 general election.