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To project united face, top SP leaders to break bread tomorrow

Press Trust of India  |  Lucknow 

After closing ranks to stave off split in votes, the high and mighty in the have planned a strategy session here tomorrow to project a united face ahead of Assembly polls due early next year.

With an internal war sullying the image of the ruling party barely few months before the crucial elections, SP patriarch Yadav has minced no words while cautioning senior party leaders against any split in votes.

There have been signs of a thaw and it would be for the first time since the bitter family feud within the Yadav family came to the fore during middle of this year that Mulayam, Chief Minister and his uncles Shivpal and Ram Gopal would sit together sinking their differences.

The meeting is likely to dwell on the thorny issues of distribution of tickets to candidates and reinstatement of sacked ministers and party members, a party insider said.

Mulayam recently revoked the expulsion of his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, weeks after the MP was expelled for six years for publicly siding with Akhilesh.

The crisis within the Yadav family pitted Akhilesh against his father Mulayam and uncle Shivpal, months ahead of the UP elections.

Fearing the repercussions of a divided house, SP is also contemplating taking back all its expelled leaders as a picture of disunity will help its opponents, the BSP and the BJP, in the battle of ballots.

Muslim voters account for nearly 20 per cent of population and can easily make or mar the electoral prospects of any party.

The long-drawn internal war, which broke out some four months ago and spilled over into public domain, was keenly watched by SP's political opponents which expected to gain from split in the ruling party's vote bank.

Party sources said the decision to have a joint meeting

was taken following a discussion SP state president Shivpal Yadav had with Mulayam. Shivpal later met party general secretary in Delhi earlier this week.

Shivpal had publicly touched feet of to drive home the message that they have buried the hatchet.

While expelling Ram Gopal, Shivpal had accused him of trying to save his skin as his son, MP Akshay Pratap, and daughter-in-law were allegedly embroiled in a graft case being probed by CBI.

Shivpal had also blamed Ram Gopal for SP's breakup from the 'Mahagathbandhan' (grand coalition) in Bihar last year.

Sources said the discussion on poll preparations could not be done thoroughly in the absence of Akhilesh.

The party high command feels that the development agenda of the chief minister has sent a positive message across the state but going to polls as a house divided would hamper its poll prospects.

Both BJP and BSP have mounted a fierce attack on the ruling party in the run-up to 2017 Assembly elections, while SP is harping on development tune.

The government carried out a trial run of Akhilesh Yadav's dream project - Lucknow Metro - even as BSP chief Mayawati alleged the project was completed in haste to gain cheap popularity ahead of polls.

Mayawati has never missed a chance to highlight the tug-of-war in the Yadav family, especially the strained ties between uncle and nephew, while appealing to voters to rid the state of the present dispensation.

Mulayam, however, managed to broker an uneasy truce between the warring camps to project a show of unity at the SP silver jubilee bash on November 5, putting a temporary lid on the gaping fissures.

First Published: Thu, December 01 2016. 17:22 IST