Lucknow: Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA Shivpal Yadav, the uncle of party chief Akhilesh Yadav, has demanded the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), one of the core agendas of the BJP.
The announcement comes amid speculation about Shivpal planning to join the BJP following tensions with his nephew.
Not invited to a meeting of SP MLAs last month, Shivpal stayed away from a meeting of SP allies, and met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath later, triggering speculation about his next move.
Akhilesh and Shivpal had patched up ahead of the 2022 assembly elections after a phase of tense relations.
Shivpal’s UCC comment came at an event at the office of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L), floated by him in 2018, in Lucknow on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti Thursday.
“The time has come when a Uniform Civil Code [should] be drafted to encompass the sentiments of every section of society and implemented… Ambedkar raised it in the Constituent Assembly, Lohia ji raised it in 1967 (elections),” he said.
The remarks were reiterated in a statement from his party.
“UCC will strengthen assimilation. The misconceptions that have been spread around it will be removed,” it said, adding that the PSP-L wants the implementation of a UCC whose draft adequately respects all faiths.
Following the UCC comment from Shivpal, his son Aditya Yadav, the general secretary of the PSP-L, issued a letter disbanding its state working committee, and all the national and state working cells, besides removing party spokespersons.
An outgoing spokesperson for the PSP-L described the letter as “a political procedure after the elections”.
Asked why the decision came days after the elections, he said “it is a decision for a new invention”.
“A new working committee will be formed… a better working committee, a passionate committee which will bring the ideas of nationalism and socialism on the ground,” he added.
On Shivpal’s comments about the UCC, the spokesperson said he had “highlighted the thoughts of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and Ambedkar and he has not given any statement on when, where and how the UCC be implemented.”
He denied the remarks were a result of Shivpal’s alleged “growing closeness” with the BJP. “The BJP was nowhere in sight when the debate around UCC was at its peak in 1948 and even when Dr Lohia made it an election issue in 1967,” he added.
‘Reports of shift planted’
A senior PSP-L leader told ThePrint that reports of Shivpal’s alleged shift were being “planted”.
“It is possible that Shivpal ji joins the BJP, but it is also possible that a new arrangement of all those who are upset with the SP and Akhilesh Yadav — including Azam Khan and Chandrashekhar Azad — may take shape,” a PSP-L leader told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
“Things will take time. We are expecting the bypoll [for the Azamgarh parliamentary bypoll, to be held for Lok Sabha seat vacated by Akhilesh] by July-August and clarity is likely around that. Such reports are mostly planted,” the leader said.
Meanwhile, the SP camp seems to be watching the movements closely but still feels that Mulayam Singh Yadav can broker peace between his son and brother.
“Shivpal Yadav is still an MLA of the SP. The pain due to which he is making these overtures is not likely to ease by switching over to the BJP,” said a senior SP leader. “The 2024 polls are still two years away and the bypoll is likely in July-August. This is a family feud and these are merely pressure tactics from Shivpal. The day Mulayam makes the two (Shivpal and Akhilesh) sit together and broker peace, the matter will end,” the leader added.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)