- Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh presented a united front for Delhi rally
- Shivpal, sidelined by Akhilesh, formed his new outfit on August 29
- He had claimed Mulayam will fight 2019 elections on his party's ticket
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and his father, former party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, presented a united front at a rally in New Delhi on Sunday, downplaying estranged leader Shivpal Yadav's contention that he enjoys the party patriarch's support.
Shivpal Yadav had formed the Samajwadi Secular Morcha on August 29, and invited all "neglected" leaders from his former party to join him. He also claimed that Mulayam Singh Yadav - his brother - will contest the 2019 elections on his party's ticket.
Addressing supporters during the concluding event of a cycle rally at Jantar Mantar, Akhilesh Yadav taunted Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over his recent remark that chanting the Hanuman Chalisa -- a devotional hymn addressed to the Hindu god -- would keep aggressive monkeys at bay. "The Chief Minister urges people to chant the Hanuman Chalisa to get rid of monkeys. But 2019 will determine who flees and who stays," he quipped.
Mr Adityanath's remark had come a few months after a BJP leader in Madhya Pradesh recommended reciting the sacred chant to end bad weather in the state.
Akhilesh Yadav questioned the success of the Narendra Modi Government's demonetisation initiative in checking corruption and flow of black money into India, especially at a time when the Rafale fighter aircraft deal has turned into such a controversy. "We need a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the incident because that's the only way the truth can emerge," he said.
The former chief minister also demanded that the Union government conduct a caste census to ensure social justice in a country where everybody from doctors to policemen allegedly takes action on the basis of people's position on the social hierarchy.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, for his part, said it was imperative that the Samajwadi Party return to power in Uttar Pradesh while continuing to wield influence in the national capital. He said this was the only way the country would get an administration that actually fulfils the promises it makes. "There are over two crore unemployed people in the country. I asked the Prime Minister what happened to providing jobs and Rs 15 lakh to everybody. I told him that he cheated the people and formed government based on lies. But there is no difference between the Samajwadi Party's promises and actions," he said.
The party patriarch said he has asked Akhilesh Yadav to ensure gender parity in the Samajwadi Party by enhancing women's participation in political activities.
Akhilesh Yadav thanked his father for appearing with him onstage, saying that the presence of Netaji -- as Mulayam Singh Yadav is popularly called -- has energised Samajwadi Party workers. Nothing can happen in the party without his consent, the former chief minister added.
Shivpal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav have been at loggerheads ever since a feud for power broke out in the party two years ago. As the party patriarch sided with Shivpal Yadav, his son took charge as the national president of the Samajwadi Party on January 1, 2017. Yogi Adityanath and other BJP leaders often use this development to target Akhilesh Yadav, likening him to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who had jailed his father.
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