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Akhilesh and Shivpal to Begin Separate Yatras Today with Family Ties at a Crossroads

The family feud that started in the Samajwadi Party before the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections between Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav does not seem to be coming to an end with the next edition of the polls around the corner. The two will be embarking on separate yatras (campaign processions) across the state from Tuesday. Shivpal had approached his nephew for an alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) but Akhilesh didn’t respond in the given time frame.

On Monday, the SP chief met his father Mulayam Singh Yadav in Delhi to take his blessings before embarking on the Samajwadi Vijay Yatra. Akhilesh will start his ambitious yatra from Kanpur and will travel to Hamirpur and Jalaun in the first phase on October 12-13. The party has issued directions that only SP cadres of the concerned district should attend the yatra by Akhilesh and no worker from outside should come.

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Experts feel that if Akhilesh and Shivpal join forces for the 2022 state assembly elections, it will boost the Samajwadi Party’s chances manifold. Speaking to News18, veteran journalist and political commentator Ratan Mani Lal said, “There has been no substantial performance by Shivpal since 2017, but if both Shivpal and Akhilesh come together then the firepower of the Samajwadi Party will shoot up. This is what Mulayam realises but Akhilesh fails to see. MSY has realised that Akhilesh on his own may not perform that well against the ruling BJP compared to if Akhilesh and Shivpal come together. If MSY succeeds in bringing together his son and brother then the Samajwadi Party stands a better chance of emerging as a much stronger no. 2 party.”

The Rath Yatra is considered a lucky charm by the Samajwadi Party as whenever Akhilesh Yadav has gone on one, the SP has formed the government in the state. Decorated with pictures of party patriarch and former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, party MP from Rampur Azam Khan, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav, and party state president Naresh Uttam Patel, and embossed with the slogan ‘Bado Ka Hath Yuva Ka Sath’ (the older generation blesses the new), the bus that will be ferrying Akhilesh was put out for a media viewing on Saturday at the party office in Lucknow. On the other side of the bus is a solo picture of the SP chief with the slogan ‘Kisan, Gareeb, Mahila, Yuva, Karobari, Sabki Ek Awaz Hai, Hum Samajwadi’ (farmers, the poor, women, the youth, traders, everyone says in one voice, we are Samajwadis).

Akhilesh’s estranged uncle and Mulayam’s younger brother Shivpal, on the other hand, will commence a Samajik Parivartan Yatra from Tuesday. While both nephew and uncle are starting their respective journeys at the same time, it was Shivpal who had announced his yatra first.

“People are scared in the state, law and order has deteriorated, unemployment has grown manifold, businessmen are seeing losses after the corona crisis and the condition of then farmers is not hidden from anyone. Seeing all these issues we decided to embark on the Samajik Parivartan Yatra to tell the people the truth about this regime,” said Shivpal’s son Aditya Yadav. “This yatra starting from Mathura on October 12 will go through all the 403 assembly constituencies of the state and will be done in seven phases before culminating on November 27 in Amethi district. We will be reaching out to the booth level in all the assembly seats and this entire yatra will be done under the guidance of our party chief.”

On the issue of the yatra schedule clashing with Akhilesh’s, Aditya said many others will carry out such campaigns at this time. “Our yatra dates were announced much before their yatra was announced. Our yatra is aimed against the current government. Our focus is on our own yatra. Elections are near and many other parties are taking out their yatras, be it the Samajwadi Party or the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD),” he said. Aditya argued that such yatras should be taken out across the state as it needs a strong opposition.

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A few days ago, while speaking to the media in Etawah, Shivpal said, “There has been no reply from Akhilesh Yadav on an alliance. So, there will be a confrontation in the elections. We have already announced our yatra.”

Shivpal Yadav did not stop there and, without naming the SP, he made a reference to the Mahabharata. “No one could kill Dronacharya, Bhishma and Duryodhana, the characters of Mahabharata, but Shri Krishna was with the Pandavas, due to which everything was destroyed,” he said. “Like the Pandavas, we have only sought respect for ourselves and our companions. We have no ambition.”

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