Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday sacked four ministers, including uncle Shivpal Yadav and senior leader OP Singh, from the Cabinet. He took the decision at a meeting of party lawmakers. Raju Yadav, a party MLA who was present at the meeting, said, "CM said in the meeting that whoever is close to Amar Singh cannot be in my Cabinet." Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will meet lawmakers on Monday. This is the second time that Akhilesh has sacked his uncle from the state Cabinet.

Earlier in the day, party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav said that being with Akhilesh meant being on the winning side, ANI reported. "Those who oppose Akhilesh won't be able to show their faces in the legislative assembly. Where Akhilesh is, victory follows," he said in a letter to party workers. Ram Gopal Yadav told party members to support the chief minister and make his November 3 rath yatra a success.

This comes a day after Mulayam Singh Yadav suspended party legislator Udayveer Singh for six years. Singh had written a letter to the SP president in which he accused Akhilesh Yadav’s stepmother Sadhna of practising black magic on him (Akhilesh).

In his letter, Singh alleged that Shivpal and Sadhna were jealous of Akhilesh's popularity as chief minister. He also added that the SP needed to revoke the expulsion of youth leaders who protested against Shivpal's appointment as state party chief, adding that Akhilesh was the incumbent party’s most credible leader.

However, hours after Singh’s letter was made public, Shivpal endorsed Akhilesh as the party’s CM candidate. "Akhilesh Yadav will be the next CM, if the party is voted to power. He will be our CM candidate," he said at a meeting of the party's city and district units to discuss strategies for the upcoming polls.

Rumours are rife that the infighting within the party in the run-up to state Assembly elections next year has led to the chief minister’s supporters functioning independently from a separate office in Lucknow. The alleged family feud was triggered by party president Mulayam Singh Yadav appointing Shivpal, his brother, the state party chief. The move, which was reportedly implemented because of fears of an anti-incumbency vote, did not go down well with the chief minister, who then relieved his uncle of major portfolios in the Cabinet. Mulayam Singh Yadav had to intervene to bring the situation under control.