Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party on Sunday appeared headed for a split as Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ousted uncle Shivpal Yadav and three others from the government while the party brass sacked his backer and MP Ram Gopal Yadav from the party in an intensifying dynastic power struggle ahead of next year's election.
The dramatic decision by the estranged Chief Minister followed the earlier dismissal from the party of Akhilesh supporters on Saturday by Shivpal Yadav, the new state in charge of the Samajwadi Party and brother of party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.
On Sunday evening, Mulayam Singh -- facing the worst crisis of his political career -- called an emergency meeting of senior party leaders.
Besides Shivpal Yadav, the other ministers thrown out were Narad Rai, Om Prakash and Shadab Fatima. Jaya Prada, an actress-turned-politician, was also expelled from the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council.
All of them were said to be close to Amar Singh, a businessman-turned-politician who was sacked from the party in 2010 along with Jaya Prada. He returned to the party last year and became a Rajya Sabha member.
Legislators who attended a morning meeting with the Chief Minister said Akhilesh Yadav made it clear that anyone close to Amar Singh cannot find a place in his government.
Hours later, the Samajwadi Party expelled national General Secretary and spokesman Ram Gopal for six years from all party posts.
Announcing the decision by Mulayam Singh, Shivpal Yadav said Ram Gopal had connived with "communal forces" to destabilize and weaken the Samajwadi Party -- which has a brute majority in the 403-member assembly.
"He met a senior BJP leader thrice and is trying to save his son Akshay and daughter-in-law from the CBI," Shivpal Yadav said, linking the two family members with a tainted chief engineer of Noida Authority. Ram Gopal Yadav denied the charge.
Ram Gopal Yadav triggered a controversy earlier in the morning when he released a letter saying only Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav can lead the party to victory in the coming assembly poll.
He said people opposing the Chief Minister were corrupt and without character.
Akhilesh Yadav, 43, describing himself as the political successor to his father Mulayam Singh, denied that his decision to oust Shivpal Yadav would split the Samajwadi Party. The party, he said, belonged to "Netaji" - as Mulayam Singh is popularly known.
The Chief Minister also said he would attend the party's Silver Jubilee function on November 5.
The legislators who attended the Chief Minister's meeting told the media that Akhilesh Yadav became emotional while talking about his relations with his father and said anyone coming between them would not be spared.
Soon after the meeting ended, the legislators shouted slogans hailing Akhilesh Yadav and denouncing Amar Singh as a "dalal" (broker).
An insider said all efforts to bring peace in the Samajwadi Party were effectively over now and that the party may he headed for a vertical split between the two generations.
Sunday's developments came a day before Mulayam Singh meets party legislators in Lucknow.
Akhilesh Yadav had earlier refused to attend party meetings called by Shivpal Yadav on Friday and Saturday. Instead, he met the district party chiefs separately.
On Saturday, Shivpal Yadav expelled Udayveer Singh, an MLC considered close to Akhilesh Yadav, from the party for six years for asking Mulayam Singh to step down and hand over the party baton to his son.
Shivpal Yadav also filled up the vacancies of presidents in the party's frontal wings with men known to be his followers.