Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was declared the Samajwadi Party’s national president by his uncle Ram Gopal Yadav and supporters at a national executive meeting in Lucknow on Sunday. The declaration was made in the absence of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal Yadav, who officially holds the post.

Ram Gopal Yadav said the national executive demands the sacking of Shivpal Yadav as state president and Amar Singh as a party member.

The chief minister said he would do anything to protect his father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and the party. Akhilesh Yadav said, “The whole country should understand that I will respect Netaji [Mulayam Singh Yadav] more than ever before.” The chief minister added that it was his duty to act against those conspiring against his father.

Mulayam Singh Yadav said the national convention was held in violation of party provisions and that those who attended it would be penalised. In a letter to party workers, Mulayam Singh Yadav had warned party workers against attending the convention. He expelled Ram Gopal Yadav from the party again on Sunday for six years, a day after withdrawing an expulsion order issued against him. The party chief said the SP national convention will be held on January 5. Mulayam Singh Yadav said that at the meeting, the party would take a call on the remaining seats for which candidates have not been announced yet.

On Saturday, Akhilesh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav were expelled from the Samajwadi Party soon after Mulayam Singh issued a showcause notice to the chief minister for releasing his own list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh polls. The expulsion order was withdrawn within 24 hours.

The chief minister’s supporters had held demonstrations in various parts of the state to protest against his expulsion.

The chief minister had released a list of 235 candidates on Thursday, a day after his father had named his own set of nominees for 325 of the state’s 404 Assembly seats, denying tickets to several ministers who supported Akhilesh Yadav. Mulayam Singh Yadav had accused his son of not consulting him before releasing his list. “We will decide the chief ministerial candidate for Uttar Pradesh,” he had said.

The Samajwadi Party has faced infighting since September, when Shivpal Yadav was appointed the state SP chief. Akhilesh Yadav had then relieved Shivpal Yadav of his Cabinet portfolios, once in September and again in November. Despite interventions from Mulayam Singh Yadav, the rift in the party has remained, with Akhilesh Yadav’s supporters reportedly functioning independently out of a separate office in Lucknow.