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Samajwadi Party Rift Widens With Parallel Lists From Akhilesh Yadav, Uncle Shivpal

Samajwadi Party Rift Widens With Parallel Lists From Akhilesh Yadav, Uncle Shivpal

LUCKNOW:  The Yadav versus Yadav war heated up on Thursday evening with parallel lists of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections coming both from Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and the camp of his son Akhilesh Yadav. Hours after an unsigned list surfaced in the evening, which sources said, was from the Chief Minister’s camp and contained the names of 235 of his supporters, his uncle Shivpal Yadav released an official list of 68 candidates. Mulayam Singh had released a list of 325 candidates on Wednesday, leaving out some of the key aides of Akhilesh Yadav. Candidates that the Chief Minister had fiercely opposed, but were backed by his uncle Shivpal Yadav, made the list.   Adamant about contesting elections, the supporters of the Chief Minister met him in the morning and in the evening, the list of 235 surfaced. A source close to the Chief Minister told NDTV that it contained names of rebel leaders close to Akhilesh Yadav, who, after being overlooked by the party, were determined to contest the Uttar Pradesh elections. Sources in the opposite camp claimed the list has been selectively leaked to media outlets to exert pressure on Mr Yadav’s father and party chief Mulayam Singh. Elections in UP are expected to be announced by the Election Commission any day now. For the state’s ruling Samajwadi Party — which takes on the BJP, the BSP and the Congress in a battle billed as the semi-final before the 2019 national election – this is a revolt it can ill-afford. On Wednesday, after Akhilesh Yadav had been snubbed again by his father’s list, there was intense speculation that he could rebel by announcing his own set of candidates. After a meeting with the Chief Minister, his close confidant Atul Pradhan, who hoped to be the party candidate from Meerut, today said, “We will fight elections…you will find out how”. Pawan Pandey, a minister in Mr Yadav’s cabinet, said he was headed for Ayodhya and was “sure” that he would “contest the elections”. “To ensure that Akhilesh Yadav becomes UP Chief Minister again, we need to contest,” he added. The Chief Minister was not in capital Lucknow when Mulayam Singh announced candidates yesterday and he met his father today after assuring his supporters that he would appeal to him to reconsider their candidacy. Also present at the meeting was uncle Shivpal Yadav, who is the party’s UP chief and has engaged in a no-holds-barred power battle with the chief minister. Both had made separate recommendations for UP’s 403 seats. Mulayam Singh made it clear yesterday that he is boss. “I have not gone by any one list, many people had given lists, and I have gone by my choice,” he said, also reiterating that the party would not project anyone for Chief Minister, in a double snub for Akhilesh. In Akhilesh Yadav’s bitter feud with his uncle – constructed around who shall call the shots in selecting candidates for the UP elections – Mulayam Singh has consistently sided with Shivpal Yadav.

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