Alliance with the Congress in the bag, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is now working on a patch-up with father Mulayam, who was dealt a blow on Monday after the poll panel declared the CM’s faction the Samajwadi Party, allotting it the party symbol, a bicycle.
Firmly in control of the Uttar Pradesh’s ruling party, Akhilesh, met Mulayam at his Lucknow residence on Tuesday, their second meeting after the election commission’s decision.
“I will take Netaji (Mulayam) along… my relation with him is unbreakable,” he told mediapersons, adding he didn’t see the poll panel verdict as a victory.
But, it was the EC decision that led to the Congress announcing its alliance with the Samajwadi Party during the day in Delhi even as Akhilesh responded to queries about the tie-up by saying, “Give us some time.”
“I am confident that the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance will form the next government in Uttar Pradesh,” Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters in Delhi.
The Congress leader who is in charge of Uttar Pradesh said the official announcement was expected within 36 hours and details would be thrashed out in two or three days.
The Congress was demanding 120-130 seats, which the SP was unwilling to concede, sources said. The SP had offered 115 seats for all the partners — the Congress, Rashtriya Lok Dal of Ajit Singh and the Krishna Patel faction of the Apna Dal. The Congress could get 80-90 seats.
The alliance also cuts short the role of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, named by the Congress as its CM candidate. Dikshit had offered to withdraw if the alliance worked out.
Akhilesh, who is also the SP president, said the Congress tie-up would be announced in Lucknow and he would issue a fresh list of candidates.
According to sources, Mulayam handed him a list of 38 names that didn’t include Shivpal, who had ruled himself out of the election.
However, his son, Aditya, and some of the ministers sacked by Akhilesh are among the people that Mulayam wants fielded.
The fight for party control between Akhilesh and Shivpal virtually split the Yadav clan, with Mulayam picking his brother over his son.
Choice of candidates also led to a bitter fight. Mulayam announced candidates for 397 seats, leaving out several Akhilesh loyalists. Akhilesh came up with his own list of 237 contestants.
“Now, I have a big responsibility to shoulder and my entire focus is now on winning the elections,” Akhilesh told supporters.
He was to launch the party’s campaign January 19 but a new schedule was being drawn, party sources said.
Voting for the 403-member UP assembly will be held in seven phases, beginning February 11.
Akhilesh asked the first-phase candidates to wait till January 23 for filing nominations, which opened Tuesday. The last date of filing papers for the first round is January 24.
Even as he reached out to his father, Akhilesh filed a caveat in the Supreme Court, requesting it not to pass orders without giving him a hearing if his father challenged the EC decision.
Mulayam’s cousin, Ramgopal, who has backed Akhilesh in the family feud, signed the caveat.
(With inputs from Bhadra Sinha)