Amid a raging family feud timed to election season, Mulayam Singh Yadav has been given some advice: “History is ruthless. It spares no one.”

In a letter received on Sunday, the 76-year-old was also warned by cousin Ram Gopal that if their Samajwadi Party collects fewer than 100 of Uttar Pradesh’s 403 seats, “you alone would be held responsible”.

Mulayam Singh Yadav is trying to balance a tug-of-war for power between son Akhilesh, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, and younger brother Shivpal Yadav, who is a cabinet minister. So far, he has signaled a leaning towards his brother, choosing as recently as last week to remain vague about whether Akhilesh Yadav would be picked once again as the ruling party’s presumptive Chief Minister.

Akhilesh Yadav, recipient of increasingly cold vibes from his father, is being championed by Ram Gopal Yadav, a long-time duelist with Shivpal Yadav.

Ram Gopal Yadav has ascended to top of the Chief Minister’s cohort. Shivpal Yadav is Mulayam Singh Yadav’s favourite of four brothers.

That rounds up the ensemble cast of the political drama that has over-run the First Family of the Samajwadi Party ahead of the election that is due in the next few months.
A few weeks ago, Shivpal Yadav trumped the Chief Minister’s clearly-stated objections and annexed a small political party headed by a former criminal because it has a strong hold over Muslims, who form 18 percent of the state’s population.

But, Ram Gopal Yadav wrote to Mulayam Singh over the weekend, “Akhilesh is undoubtedly the most popular leader of the state and under him, Uttar Pradesh has seen unprecedented development projects. If the party has to win the election, Akhilesh must be declared its chief ministerial candidate.”

Mid-September, Shivpal Yadav was picked by Mulayam Singh to replace the Chief Minister as party president in the state. That gave Shivpal Yadav license to pick candidates for the election, and sidelined Akhilesh Yadav, who retaliated by taking away key ministries from his uncle, who then quit the government and party posts.

Mulayam Singh’s ministrations resulted in a truce. Shivpal Yadav is back as a minister and Akhilesh Yadav has been told he will play an important role in selecting who runs for election.

“I will myself propose name of Akhilesh as Chief Minister if the party wins in 2017,” said Shivpal Yadav yesterday, proving his prowess in the politically-vital art of stating his support while suggesting it’s not readily available. Though he says that was meant as an endorsement of Akhilesh Yadav, it’s likely to be interpreted – at least by the other camp – as an indication that Shivpal Yadav does not believe his nephew should be declared the Chief Ministerial candidate for the campaign.