Head of Indian state bids to wrest party from father

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New Delhi (AFP)

The chief minister of India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh tried Sunday to seize control of its ruling party from his father in another twist to a family feud that has made headlines for weeks.

The bid by 43-year-old Akhilesh Yadav to take over the Samajwadi Party comes at the end of a turbulent 48 hours.

On Friday he was expelled from the party but taken back into the fold the following day by his father and mentor Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Mulayam, a 77-year-old wrestler-turned-politician, previously served three terms as the state's chief minister.

Akhilesh, along with one of his uncles Ram Gopal Yadav, has been locked in a dispute with Mulayam and another uncle Shivpal Yadav.

The two factions are vying for control of the party before crucial state polls expected around February.

At a special party meeting in the state capital Lucknow, Ram Gopal announced Akhilesh's appointment as the party's new national president.

But Mulayam in a statement to the media declared the meeting "unconstitutional" and warned everyone against attending it.

Observers in New Delhi expect more competing announcements from different party factions over the next few days as the family feud plays out in full public view.

Uttar Pradesh, with a population of more than 200 million, is seen as a critical political player. It sends the biggest single bloc of lawmakers to the 545-seat national parliament.

In 2012 Akhilesh became the youngest-ever chief minister thanks to his soaring popularity with younger voters, who elected him on promises of more jobs and a greater share in India's economic growth.