Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav missed the Saifai mahotsav after Mulayam Singh Yadav dismissed his aides. Picture: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh YadavReuters

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was missing from the opening of the "Saifai Mahotsav"  on 26 December and subsequent days, giving flame to rumours of a tiff between father and son, since Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav overrode his authority and sacked Sunil Singh Yadav "Saajan" and another party leader, Anand Bhadauria.

Firing Akhilesh's two close is being seen as Mulayam's way of reining in those loyal to Akhilesh. Sources have said Akhilesh is very upset over the two dismissals, done on the recommendation of Akhilesh's uncle and state minister Shivpal Singh Yadav.

The two aides were sacked over alleged anti-party activities during the panchayat polls.

The official statement regarding Akhilesh' absence, however, states: "The chief minister is busy with work in Lucknow and couldn't make it to the opening."

"It is a 17-day festival. The chief minister's blessings are with us and he is monitoring the proceedings from Lucknow," NDTV quoted Dharmendra Yadav, a lawmaker and Mulayam Singh's nephew, as saying.

Akhilesh also missed the opening of the Indian Grameen Cricket League on 27 December, and a part of the Mahotsav.

The entire Yadav family was present at the festival, hosted every year in the village that is Mulayam Singh Yadav's constituency.

The village in Etawah district has an airport, a stadium and a 500-bed hospital.

The reshuffle in the centres of power within the party could be seen as a clamour to gain the upper hand as the Uttar Pradesh elections near.