Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tore into Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav today, comparing him to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
At a rally in Uttar Pradesh's Deoria, Mr Chouhan asked voters whether they can trust someone "who wasn't loyal to his father", alluding to Mr Yadav's fight with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav over control of the Samajwadi Party ahead of the UP elections in 2017.
The Yadavs in 2016 had a rift over deciding who would head the party and a tussle had followed over keeping the party's election symbol. Akhilesh Yadav, who was Chief Minister till 2017, eventually became the party chief.
"Akhilesh is today's Aurangzeb. One who wasn't loyal to his father, how will he be loyal to you? Mulayam Singh himself said so," Mr Chouhan said at the rally in UP, where voting for the third phase was held today.
"Aurangzeb jailed his father, killed his brothers. Mulayam ji says no one has humiliated him the way Akhilesh did," the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister said.
#WATCH Akhilesh is today's Aurangzeb. One who wasn't (loyal) to his father, how will he be(loyal)to you. Mulayam Singh himself said so...Aurangzeb jailed his father,killed his brothers. Mulayam Ji says no one has humiliated him the way Akhilesh did: MP CM SS Chouhan in Deoria, UP pic.twitter.com/XzGgfBTmfj— ANI UP/Uttarakhand (@ANINewsUP) February 20, 2022
Mulayam Singh Yadav, after the row in 2016 that stretched into 2017, had said he had no dispute with his son and that they would "sort out problems." The senior Yadav had staked claim to the "cycle," the symbol of the Samajwadi Party that he founded 25 years ago.
With the rift in the past tense, Akhilesh Yadav's father has been campaigning for him.
Akhilesh Yadav's uncle, Shivpal Yadav, 66, who had broken away from the Samajwadi Party ahead of the 2017 elections and formed his own party after very public differences with him, mended fences just two months ago.
Once the trusted younger brother of Mulayam Yadav and his de-facto second-in-command, Shivpal Yadav had clashed with Akhilesh Yadav in 2017 over leadership of the party.
The seats voting today in UP are located in the west, central and southern parts of UP. In 2017, the BJP won 49 of these 59 seats while the Samajwadi Party won nine. The Congress won one seat and Mayawati's Bahujan Samajwadi Party, none.
All eyes are on Karhal seat in the Yadav family stronghold Mainpuri, from where Akhilesh Yadav is contesting his first state elections. The BJP has fielded Union Minister SP Singh Baghel against him. The Samajwadi Party has lost this seat just once since the party's inception in 1992.