Samajwadi Party sources said the plan is to project Akhilesh Yadav as the sole face of the party. File
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, asked about a second defection from his extended family to the BJP in 24 hours, thanked the BJP for reducing the family footprint within his party just weeks before the crucial UP election.
"The BJP should be happy, they keep on accusing us of promoting family (parivavaad), at least they are ending the parivarvaad in our family. I am thankful to them for that," Mr Yadav said at a Lucknow press conference today when asked about the defection of Pramod Gupta, a former Samajwadi Party MLA and the brother-in-law of party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav.
After joining the BJP today, Mr Gupta said the Samajwadi Party had been overtaken by goons.
This came a day after Aparna Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav's sister-in-law, joined the BJP in Delhi. The high-profile defection came after last week's exodus of top OBC ministers and MLAs from the BJP to the Samajwadi Party, led by eastern UP's OBC strongman Swami Prasad Maurya.
Samajwadi Party sources said the exit of leaders related to the Yadav family may fit in with the party's moves in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.
Mr Yadav was chief minister between 2012 and 2017 but was overshadowed for most of his tenure by his uncle Shivpal Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav. He eventually took control of the party but not before a major falling out with his father and uncle who even expelled him from the party at one point.
Ahead of the crucial 2022 election, Mr Yadav has patched up with uncle Shivpal Yadav, who now heads a breakaway party but is no longer a major figure within the Samajwadi Party's scheme of things. Mulayam Singh Yadav is a Lok Sabha MP but not part of the party's day-to-day functioning any more . Mr Yadav's other uncle Ram Gopal Yadav is a Rajya Sabha MP, but is mostly a backroom manager for the party. His cousins , also former MPs, are rarely seen by his side now.
Samajwadi Party sources said the game plan is to project Mr Yadav as the sole face of the party in the run-up to the elections as politician who can single handedly take the party ahead.