Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is seeking re-election in the forthcoming polls in the state, has emerged as a proficient politician. While on the one hand, talks of the proposed grand coalition (mahagathbandhan) between Samajwadi Party and the Congress are yet to be sealed, with a virtual tug-of-war breaking out over seat sharing, the SP unilaterally announced its first list of 208 candidates for the assembly elections in the state.
In the list, the SP has not only announced candidates for seven assembly seats that the Congress currently holds, but also contains Akhilesh’s estranged uncle Shivpal, who will contest from his traditional family seat Jaswantnagar, as well as several others considered close to the Shivpal-Mulayam faction.
The candidates were announced on Friday ahead of a formal announcement of the party’s alliance for the Uttar Pradesh election with the Congress.The ruling party’s first list of candidates covers the first three phases of the UP elections, which will be held in seven phases beginning February 11.
The Samajwadi Party has said it will contest 300 of UP’s 403 seats, with the balance being allotted to the Congress.
A piqued Congress, which is looking at 100-odd seats to contest from, said it was “unfortunate” that the Samajwadi Party has announced candidates for nine assembly seats that the Congress currently holds and admitted it has called their proposed partnership for the Uttar Pradesh elections into question.
Speaking to the media, Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said top Congress leaders are holding emergency meetings in Delhi to discuss whether and how to salvage the partnership with Akhilesh Yadav.
Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party has said that of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh, it wants its own nominees to contest more than 300. The Congress should ideally get 54 seats, said SP leader Kiranmoy Nanda today, adding “another 25” at the most — which would give the Congress about 80 or 85 as opposed to the 100 it wants.
According to people close to Akhilesh, he is no mood to give in to Congress’ hard bargaining, while at the same time, trying to imprint his supremacy in naming candidates of his choice.
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Senior minister Azam Khan, who played mediator between father and son in their bitter power struggle in the last few weeks, will contest again from his constituency Rampur, while his son Abdullah Azam makes his debut as a Samajwadi Party candidate from Swaar.
However, while uncle Shivpal makes it to the first list of candidates, his son Aditya has not been given a ticket by cousin Akhilesh Yadav.