The chief minister of India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh was expelled from his ruling party by his own father on Friday following a political family feud that has dominated national headlines for weeks. Akhilesh Yadav has been locked in a dispute with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is the leader of the Samajwadi Party, and his uncle Shivpal Yadav, a senior party member, ahead of key state elections.
Akhilesh, 43, has been trying to shake off the influence of his father and uncle, finding support instead in his trusted adviser and other uncle Ram Gopal Yadav. The family conflict came to a head on Friday when 77-year-old Mulayam announced he was expelling his son and Ram Gopal for "weakening the party" he founded in 1992. "Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has also been removed from the party for six years," Mulayam told reporters in the state capital Lucknow.
"We want to save the party. My intention is not to punish anyone but a lot of effort... went into the making of this party and we must save it," he said with his brother Shivpal beside him. Mulayam accused Ram Gopal, his cousin, of "ruining Akhilesh's career". Uttar Pradesh, with a population of more than 200 million, is viewed as a critical political player as the state sends the biggest single bloc of lawmakers to the 545-seat national parliament in New Delhi. Wrestler-turned-politician Mulayam served three terms as the state's chief minister.