In yet another sign of worsening infighting in Samajwadi Party,UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today announced that he will embark on his 'Vikas Rath Yatra' alone from November 3 which will make him skip the party's silver jubilee celebrations slated to begin two days later.
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.
"I had decided to take out the yatra from October 3 but it was cancelled due to some reasons. I will take out the 'Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra' from November 3," Akhilesh wrote.
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.
Apart from reaching out to people and galvanising party workers, 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 has also sent copies of the letter to state party chief Shivpal Yadav and National General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav. He said yatra's detailed programme will be communicated to district presidents and party workers in due course.
Earlier in the day, Akhilesh, Shivpal Yadav, and Mulayam held a closed-door meeting at party supremo's 5 Vikramaditya Marg residence to discuss poll strategy.
According to party sources, 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.
Akhilesh had earlier announced his decision to take out the yatra from October 3 through his twitter handle with a picture in which he was seen sitting inside a bus.
He had last month hit back over his removal from the party post by stripping Shivpal of his key ministerial portfolios but had to retreat as Mulayam stepped in.
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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Taking full control of the ruling party after being crowned as its head at a disputed national convention here on January 1, Akhilesh has been going all out consolidating his grip over the organisation.
He has already made new appointments of district chiefs and released list of candidates for the Legislative Council polls in his capacity as the SP chief.
Akhilesh appointed heads of 11 district party units in Mainpuri, Moradabad, Fatehpur, Etawah, Farukhabad, Hardoi, Firozabad, Deoria, Kushinagar, Azamgarh and Mirzapur.
The existing presidents of these district units were sacked with immediate effect to pave the way for new faces to demonstrate the chief minister's strengthening grip over the party.
Presidents in all these districts were dumped by Shivpal, who is state president of another faction of SP backed by Mulayam, his elder brother.
Apparently to send the message that he was in the driver's seat as 'president' of SP, Akhilesh has cleared the names of three candidates for the biennial elections to UP upper House for Kanpur-Unnao (Teachers constituency), Allahabad-Jhansi (Teachers constituency) and Bareilly-Moradabad (Graduates constituency).
These constituencies will go to polls on February 3.