Samajwadi Party member Amar Singh (above right) on Monday said that Akhilesh Yadav is a fantastic chief minister, but not a mass leader, ANI reported. "As Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav is absolutely fantastic. As a first-time administrator his focus on development, agenda for development, is mind-boggling," he said, rejecting allegations that he was trying to destroy the Samajwadi Party.

Singh said it takes time to become a mass leader and that the Uttar Pradesh chief minister was still very young. “Blending of organisational skill and experience of Mulayam Singh and youth face of Akhilesh is very necessary," he said. Singh returned to the party fold this year after staying away for six years.

State party chief Shivpal Yadav has also said everything was peaceful within the party. He said his job was to ensure that party president Mulayam Singh Yadav's orders were followed. On the same day, another party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said there can be no Samajwadi Party without Akhilesh Yadav.

On Monday, Mulayam Singh Yadav had called Shivpal Yadav a "leader of the masses" and had said that he would never forget the work he had done for him and the party. In an apparent reference to his son Akhilesh Yadav, he said, "Drunkards and goons have been added to the party. You get some power, and it goes to your head. If you cannot face criticism, you cannot be a leader."

The party president had further said that he was saddened by the rift in his family. "Instead of fighting our weaknesses, we are fighting among ourselves," he had said. Mulayam Singh Yadav's remarks came while Akhilesh denied rumours that he would leave the Samajwadi Party and form a new outfit for the upcoming state Assembly elections. Akhilesh Yadav further said that he would have resigned had his father asked him to do so. He had said that he was "hurt" after Amar Singh said he would not retain his seat as the chief minister by November.

Supporters of both Akhilesh and Shivpal Yadav clashed outside the party office where the meeting was held on Monday.

The feud

On Sunday, Akhilesh Yadav had sacked four ministers, including Shivpal Yadav and senior leader OP Singh, from the state Cabinet. This was the second time the chief minister had sacked his uncle from the state Cabinet. Hours after Akhilesh's move, Mulayam Singh dismissed Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav, who supports Akhilesh, from the party for six years.

Rumours are rife that the infighting within the Samajwadi Party in the run-up to 2017 Assembly elections 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 appointing Shivpal as the state party chief. The move, which was reportedly implemented because of fears of an anti-incumbency vote, did not go down well with Akhilesh, who then relieved his uncle of major portfolios in the Cabinet. Mulayam Singh Yadav had to intervene to bring the situation under control.