Lucknow: The ruling SP was Friday on the precipice of a split with party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav expelling his son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and general secretary Ramgopal Yadav for six years after they put up candidates against the official nominees and summoned a party meet on Sunday.
The action, dubbed by a defiant Ramgopal, Mulayam's cousin, as "unconstitutional", as the party plunged into an unprecedented crisis raising questions over the fate of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
On a day of fast-moving developments, hordes of frenzied Akhilesh supporters, especially the youth, thronged his residence to express their support.
Making the announcement at a press conference here, Mulayam said the new Chief Minister will be chosen by the Samajwadi Party.
With his brother Shivpal Yadav, who has been at loggerheads with the Chief Minister, by his side, Mulayam said he had taken the action against Akhilesh and Ramgopal to save the party which he had built through hard efforts.
"We have to save the party. The party comes first. That is why we are expelling both Akhilesh and Ramgopal," he said.
He explained that the decision was taken after Ramgopal, in his capacity as general secretary, called an emergency meeting of the party on January 1 and Akhilesh "supported" it.
Ramgopal called the meeting after a showcause notice was issued to him and Akhilesh by Mulayam for releasing a list of candidates, parallel to the one issued officially by Mulayam.
"How can he (Akhilesh) release the list when the party has declared its candidates? Both Akhilesh and Ramgopal want to finish the party. I will not let it happen. I have built this party through hard work," Mulayam said.
"I had made Akhilesh the Chief Minister with much fanfare," he added.
With regard to the emergency meeting called by Ramgopal on Sunday, Mulayam said only the party president has the power to convene such a meeting. "The party cannot run on Ramgopal's whims," Mulayam said.
He said Ramgopal has not only indulged in indiscipline but is causing a big harm to the party. "As of now we have expelled him, but we will take further action against him," he party chief asserted.
Pouring scorn on Ramgopal, Mulayam said he has "ruined" the career of Akhilesh who "does not understand".
A defiant Ramgopal termed Mulayam's decision to expel him and Akhilesh as "unconstitutional" and insisted that he continues to be the general secretary of the party.
He accused party chief of indulging in "unconstitutional" activities and said the party meet called by him on Sunday will take place in any eventuality.
"If the top leadership of the party indulges in unconstitutional acts, who will call the party meeting? It is the general secretary who will do it," Ramgopal said.
He questioned the list of candidates released by Mulayam, saying no meeting of Parliamentary Board was held to discuss the nominees.