Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is understandably in a fit of anger after his party was reduced to five seats in Uttar Pradesh in the Parliamentary election. The Yadav chieftain's bile overflow manifested on Tuesday when as many as 36 Ministers of State were sacked for non-performance in the election. Not only were they stripped of their ministerial status, but also thrown out of the party.
Party sources say more heads are likely to roll, and at least half a dozen cabinet ministers could lose their ministerial berths soon. The drastic action follows a meeting Mulayam had with party candidates on Monday.
"You don't even deserve to be sitting here. Leave immediately, and remember to go out walking. Don't even step into the red-beacon car," Mulayam reportedly thundered at a meeting on Tuesday, attended by ministers of state, on Tuesday.
As many as 120 party leaders had been given Minister of State rank, and enjoyed official red-beacon car, bungalows and staff in the hope that they would boost prospects of the party's candidates in the Lok Sabha election. However, during the review meeting, most candidates reportedly told Mulayam, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and other top SP leaders that they faced maximum trouble from party MLAs and ministers. They also said that those with MoS rank were rarely seen during electioneering.
"Iqbal Mehmood (minister) dedicated all his time and effort to ensure my defeat," said Shafiqur Rahman Barq, who lost by a thin margin from Sambhal in west UP.
"Mashood Khan (SP MLA) was more interested in working for his friend and Peace Party candidate Rizwan Zaheer than working for his own party," said Atiq Ahmed, SP candidate from Srawasti in east UP.
From the eastern part of the state to the west, the story was the same everywhere. As candidates narrated how they had been back-stabbed by their own party leaders and ministers, Mulayam's patience ran out. He immediately told Akhilesh to call a meeting of those with Minister of State rank. On Tuesday, these ministers were confronted with the allegations and asked to explain what they had done in the areas assigned to them. As they stuttered and stammered, a thundering Mulayam gave them a dressing down. Three dozen were sacked outright while the rest were given a harsh warning.
"We are keeping a watch on each and every movement of yours. Don't think you can just enjoy being a mantri and roam around in your laal batti cars. You have been given a serious responsibility and you are accountable to the party," said Mulayam, according to a party leader.
The Minister of State rank is given for a year and has to be renewed annually. Party insiders say the tenure of many of these MoS may not be extended. A PIL against the discretionary granting of MoS status is pending in the Supreme Court.