Why is Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party chief Shivpal Singh Yadav sulking? Why do people feel that he is a bechara (poor thing)? And why is it a surprise that the founder of the progressive socialist party may join the Bharatiya Janata Party?

After all Shivpal, younger brother of Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav has been flirting with the BJP for a while. In 2018 Shivpal, estranged uncle of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had accepted a government bungalow from chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Soon after the bungalow was vacated by Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, it was allotted by the Yogi government to Shivpal.

Expelled by Akhilesh from the SP in 2016, Shivpal founded the PSP. Today he is hurt because he was not invited to a legislature party meeting where Akhilesh was elected party leader.

Is that a god reason to join the BJP, is the question.

Especially when Shivpal refused to attend a meeting he was invited to at the SP office on 29 March. Instead he met CM Yogi.

The relationship between Shivpal and Akhilesh was not always like this.

Soon after giving birth to him, Akhilesh’s mother fell ill. She was bed ridden till her death. It was Shivpal and his wife who took care of Akhilesh. Once Akhilesh chose politics as a career, Mulayam Singh Yadav sent him to the Lok Sabha in 2000. The plan was to divide the territory of influence between Shivpal and Akhilesh.

Akhilesh would play politics in Delhi while Shivpal would remain the SP boss in Lucknow as a member of the UP Assembly, it was initially imagined.

In 2012 that simple plan was complicated. After the SP swept the polls in UP, it was Akhilesh who emerged as Mulayam Singh’s first choice for chief minister.

That hurt Shivpal. That is when Shivpal fell out with Akhilesh. The late Amar Singh, SP MP had added fuel to the fire. For him it was a golden opportunity to further divide the Yadav khandan (household). Amar Singh was never a favourite of Akhilesh and he took revenge by further spoiling the relationship between nephew and uncle. Amar Singh is also remembered for having turned many other members of the Yadav family against Akhilesh.

A truce was brokered on the eve of the 2022 Assembly elections. In an effort to consolidate Yadav voters, Shivpal contested as an ally of the SP. Unable to defeat the BJP, and unable to form a Samajwadi government in UP, the two have fallen out with each other once again.

Till a few days ago, Shivpal was hoping that Akhilesh would retain his seat in the Lok Sabha and leave for Delhi. Shivpal would have liked to be leader of opposition in the UP Assembly but that has not happened. Akhilesh chose to retain his newly won seat in the Assembly and has surrendered his seat in the Lok Sabha.

No, Akhilesh is not planning to relocate to Delhi. Therefore Shivpal is sulking.

Shivpal is angry and he is frustrated that things have not gone his way, and in his rage he may join the BJP.

Although what an ardent follower of Ram Manohar Lohia like Shivpal will end up doing in the company of socialist hating politicians, is anybody’s guess.

Aditya Yadav is the 33 year old son of Shivpal. Aditya has political ambitions, but Akhilesh refused to give him a ticket to contest the recently concluded election. Just like sister-in-law Aparna was denied a ticket by the SP and who has since joined the BJP.

One close to Akhilesh, told The Citizen that it bothers Akhilesh that some members of his family have always had a foot in the BJP camp. It is impossible for Akhilesh to trust all those socialists who cosy up to the BJP, even if it is only to spite him.

Those who know Aditya speak highly of him. The young Yadav has the reputation of being the best orator in the family. He is also said to have a good connect with voters.

Just to see the SP break up and to watch the Yadav family disintegrate, the BJP may give a ticket to Aditya to contest a byelection in UP. What Shivpal may get is still to be seen. It could be the governorship of a state, or a seat in the Rajya Sabha, who knows.

Well-wishers are concerned that Akhilesh is weakening the SP by quarrelling with a strongman like Shivpal, who helped Mulayam Singh build the SP from scratch. But the SP chief would rather sift the SP and his family of traitors and turncoats. This way Akhilesh hopes to shed the negative image of the SP as a dynasty. He would like to cleanse the SP of parivarwaad politics.

Shivpal and Aditya seem to have no future in the SP today because Akhilesh has zero tolerance for those constantly hobnobbing with the BJP.

There is much talk of Danish Azad Ansari, the only Muslim in the new government of the ruling party.

In the previous government there was Mohsin Raza, a Shia Muslim who was minister of state for minority welfare. The Shia Muslim has traditionally been closer to the BJP. But the 33 year old Ansari is a Sunni Muslim from a lowered caste of the weaver class.

The rulers of Lucknow were Shia Muslims and a minority within the Muslim community. After the fall of the monarchy in 1858, the Shia elite felt vulnerable and suspected the British and later the Congress for preferring Sunni Muslims because they are numerically larger.

While the Shia are traditionally scholars and teachers, the Sunni Muslim elite are prosperous businessmen. The poetry spouting shia Muslim felt comfortable in the company of even Hindu right wing politicians like Atal Bihari Vajpayee precisely because they shared a common way of life.

With politics reduced to sheer vote grabbing, a Sunni Muslim like Ansari seems like a better bet for politicians today than the Shia, who are not more than five percent of the Muslim population.