The war games are likely to continue within the Yadav family, a day after Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav snubbed his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, by publicly announcing 325 candidates of the 403 assembly seats on Wednesday. The list which omitted names of candidates suggested by the UP CM, suggested that the party was in danger of splitting before the crucial polls in the state.
Hectic political activities began on Thursday right from the morning as party leaders have been gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam and huge crowds assembled outside Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav’s residence. Sources close to the UP Chief Minister said that Akhilesh was likely to announce his own list of candidates for the state polls. They also said the candidates declared by him are likely to contest on different symbols as independent candidates.
“Yes, Akhilesh Yadav is likely to announce his own list of candidates for UP polls,” said SP MLA Indal Singh. Singh’s remarks came after the CM’s meeting with those of whom who had been denied tickets.
The UP CM who had just arrived from Bundelkhand, convened a meeting on Thursday of his supporters and legislators who had been denied tickets. He also met ministers who were denied tickets. Among them were Pawan Pandey, Ram Govind Chaudhary and Arvind Singh ‘Gop’. Sources close to him said that in the highly charged atmosphere, several of his loyalists had asked him to defy his father and uncle Shivpal Yadav, and go ahead with his own list of candidates.
Later in the day, Akhilesh met his father Mulayam, and his uncle Shivpal was also present. But the talks did not seem to have yielded the desired results.
The tension before the meeting was clear as an upset Akhilesh said,”The list does not include names of certain candidates who are sure to win. I will take it up with the SP chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and they should be given tickets.” Since then the UP CM has remained incommunicado.
Akhilesh’s supporter Uday Veer Singh said, “The Chief Minister has always fought for justice and he will continue to do so.” Singh however refused to comment on whether a new party would be formed.
The list Mulayam unveiled on Wednesday, included 176 sitting MLAs. It not only left out several pro-Akhilesh ministers, but also did not carry the names of over 50 sitting MLAs. On the other hand, 10 ministers, including Shivpal, who had been sacked by the Chief Minister, over the past few months, got tickets. These former ministers were in open defiance of Akhilesh and it had paid off.
In a late night tit-for-tat action, the Chief Minister had struck back, sacking two Shivpal loyalists — Surabhi Shukla, vice-chairperson of UP Awas Vikas Parishad and her husband Sandeep Shukla from the post of advisor of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. Sandeep has been fielded from Sultanpur Sadar seat.
Mulayam had also ignored Akhilesh’s objections to certain names, like Sigbatullah Ansari, brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari, and Atiq Ahmed who faces over 40 criminal cases including that for murder. The list also included tainted minister Gayatri Prajapati, whose sacking and re-induction as minister exposed the factional infighting in the ruling party.
The SP supremo also made clear his differences with Akhilesh on the issue of a pre-poll alliance by ruling out any pact for a grand alliance. He even refused to project a chief ministerial candidate, dealing a serious blow to his son at a time when polls are to be announced very soon.
A senior party leader said that by taking on political dons and criminals, Akhilesh was attempting to grow bigger than his party. The party leader also admitted that the chief minister’s image was getting bigger by the day but also added that the image was yet to grow as big as his father’s — who has the ability to turn political fortunes at the elections.