In a fresh twist to the ongoing turf battle in the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav wrote a letter to his father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday informing him that he would be setting out on the campaign trail from November 3.

Mulayam-Akhilesh’s open fight is first of a kind in Indian politics. In a country that’s inundated with political families, examples of a son revolting against his father or a father clamping down the iron fist is almost unheard of. Father Mulayam and son Akhilesh are scripting the biggest ever masala chapter in modern Indian political history.

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In a letter to his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Chief Minister declared his intention to commence his yatra, which was put off last month after the open turf war with his uncle Shivpal Yadav, saying all political parties have already started their campaign for the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

In a one-page letter, copies of which were also sent to the SP national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav and state unit chief Shivpal Singh Yadav, Akhilesh said that already a lot of time has been lost due to “some reasons” and the party can ill-afford to further delay its poll campaign for the state assembly elections scheduled for early next year.

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The letter, addressed to Mulayam, was leaked to the media and in a few hours was ready for public consumption and scrutiny.

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Akhilesh’s letter, written on the Chief Minister letterhead, was also copied to uncles Shivpal and Ram Gopal. In his short meaningful letter, he writes:

“Respected National President (Mulayam), Samajwadi Party.

The proposed Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra that I was to undertake from 3 October in preparation for coming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh could not take off for some reasons. Now when all political parties have got actively engaged in their electoral campaign. Under the circumstances, I am going to begin ‘Vikas se Vijayki or Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra’ from 3 November, Friday, in a bid to intensify campaign to form government again in the state.

Detailed tour program would be sent to Samajwadi party district presidents and workers from time to time.”

The closing line in the letter is “For your kind information.” is important. Akhilesh does not seek permission. Akhilesh merely sought to inform Mulayam of his programme and stated that the detailed schedule of his campaign will be shared with the district heads from time to time.

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The ‘Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra’ aboard a specially improvised Mercedes bus was initially scheduled for October 3, but had to be postponed after a bitter power struggle broke out in the Yadav clan, with Shivpal Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav openly caught in a battle of words.
Citing the delay and pointing out that other parties were already in poll mode, the Chief Minister said that to return to power, the campaign has to be started right away without any further delay.

The announcement gave rise to speculation that Akhilesh might skip SP’s sliver jubilee celebrations that begin on November 5 to send a message that he was unhappy over the expulsion of youth leaders from the party, who would not be present at the event.

Akhilesh’s yatra is seen as a move to truncate the influence of Shivpal, who had been appointed the new state party president in his place.
Akhilesh is adamant on his demands of revoking the expulsion of youth leaders, some of whom are MLCs, and having his say in the ticket distribution.
The infighting continues unabated with Mulayam siding with Shivpal and his cousin Ram Gopal throwing his weight behind the the Chief Minister. The distribution of tickets and whether Akhilesh should be projected as CM candidate remain a bone of contention.

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