A protracted tussle in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling family reignited on Sunday after chief minister Akhilesh Yadav drew up his own list of poll candidates and submitted it to the party chief, bypassing his uncle and state president Shivpal Yadav.
Sources told HT Akhilesh dropped at least a dozen sitting MLAs and leaders close to Shivpal – who he has had several run-ins in the last six months, with a series of tit-for-tat sackings and expulsions rocking the party.
The CM’s surprise move angered Shivpal, who tweeted that ticket distribution would be decided by “victory potential”.
“The party will not tolerate any indiscipline that might hurt party’s image,” he tweeted around 4pm, an hour after Akhilesh submitted his list to his father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
India’s most populous state goes to the polls early next year but the Samajwadi Party has been hurt by the running feud between Shivpal and Akhilesh. Mulayam has attempted to engineer an uneasy truce but seat allotment has remained a thorny issue.
Sources told HT that Akhilesh dropped three ministers he sacked – Shadab Fatima, Om Prakash Singh, Narad Rai as well as serving minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati. All of them were known to be close to Shivpal.
But the list included Akhilesh confidante Pawan Pandey – whom Shivpal had expelled from the party — as the candidate from Ayodhya.
The CM’s list also didn’t recognise a controversial merger of the SP with the Quami Ekta Dal. Akhilesh had opposed the tie-up but was eventually overruled by Mulayam and Shivpal.
The list also didn’t contain murder suspect Aman Mani Tripathi and Atiq Ahmed as candidates – both of whom Shivpal already had announced tickets for.
Akhilesh reportedly told Mulayam that his candidates had “victory potential” because he drew up the list after getting an internal survey conducted.
Shivpal had begun declaring candidates since March and so far has given tickets on 175, and he is currently drawing up a list of candidates on remaining seats.
Akhilesh’s move has created unprecedented confusion in the party because for the first time, the chief minister has a list of preferred candidates different from the state president’s. Earlier this year, Shivpal was given the authority to decide on poll picks by Mulayam.