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First Mulayam Singh, Now Akhilesh Yadav – Prashant Kishor On Round 2

LUCKNOW: Undaunted by the criticism from the Congress of his last outreach, the party’s election strategist Prashant Kishor took the next big step today – a two-week meeting with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at his home ahead of the Uttar Pradesh election. Last week, Mr Kishor spent several hours in consultation with Akhilesh Yadav’s father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, in Delhi. The conferral provoked talk of the Congress’ interest in an alliance with the Samajawadi Party, which is headed by Mulayam Singh. “It is a free country, he can meet anybody,” said Raj Babbar, the former actor who is top boss of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, stressing that Mr Kishor had not been dispatched by their party to hold talks. Mr Kishor, 37, whose list of former clients includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has repeatedly irked Congress leaders by trying to shape lists of candidates and negotiate possible alliances. Sources close to Mr Kishor countered that the discussion with Mulayam Singh was bereft of specifics and touched only broadly upon the possible merits of a “Grand Alliance”. About a year ago, a similar front of non-BJP parties was successful in ensuring Nitish Kumar, then a client of Mr Kishor’s, was re-elected as Chief Minister of Bihar. Mulayam Singh, however, had truncated his membership of the group, alleging that his party was not being taken seriously. He did not win a single constituency after deciding to run solo. The Congress, party sources say, is disinclined to talk partnership with the Yadavs given their current state of disrepair. A feud between Akhilesh Yadav and his father about who’s really in charge of the state government has been publicly splayed. Mulayam Singh has refused to confirm that if the Samajwadi Party wins the election, Akhilesh Yadav will return as Chief Minister. Nevertheless, the Yadavs succeeded over the weekend in drawing to a major party event in Lucknow a slew of potential recruits for a large alliance. However, the Congress did not participate in the show of solidarity.

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