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Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is the ruling Samajwadi Party’s (SP) official chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 state polls, a top party leader said here today.
This comes three days after party president and patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav had emphasised that in event of the party securing majority, the CM would be selected by the SP legislators and the parliamentary board.
On Saturday, SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav had even written a terse letter to Mulayam cautioning against not projecting Akhilesh as the party’s CM candidate, which he claimed would otherwise cost the party dearly at the hustings.
Talking to media here, SP national vice president and Mulayam’s confidante Kiran Moy Nanda reiterated that Akhilesh remained the party’s CM candidate. He said the party was confident of coming back to power and Akhilesh retaining the CM’s post over his development works in the state.
On Mulayam’s recent statement that had caused much stir in the party, Nanda maintained the party president was only referring to the process the chief minister after elections are over. “Netaji (Mulayam) was only talking about the procedure, when a scribe asked a specific question.”
Nanda recalled the party had launched the first phase of ‘Mulayam Sandesh Rath’ on September 10 with the express motto of making Akhilesh the CM again.
“Akhilesh has always been the party’s chief ministerial candidate with the consent of our party president,” he said.
Nanda informed the second phase of ‘Mulayam Sandesh Rath’ would begin from November 9 with the same objective.
On Ram Gopal’s letter to Mulayam, he said the former had expressed his personal opinion in the letter.
In recent weeks, a series of developments have exposed the deep fault lines in SP over control in the party and government. The warring factions viz. SP old guards represented by Mulayam and his younger brother, cabinet minister Shivpal Singh Yadav and the party’s Gen X led by Akhilesh, have been sparring, both explicitly and implicitly, even as 2017 polls are less than five months away.
In such circumstances, Nanda’s reiteration over Akhilesh indicates the party has now realised the prospective loss staring on its face if things were not put in order and a truce established.
The raging feud has confused the party cadres and led to factionalism. It had also threatened to derail the election campaign of SP, which is faced with anti-incumbency, apart from stiff challenge from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Owing to current infighting, SP was placed third in reckoning behind BJP and BSP in a pre-poll survey conducted by a news channel.
Last month, a temporary truce facilitated by Mulayam had witnessed the reinstatement of sacked minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapti into the state cabinet on September 26 and continuation of Shivpal as the party’s UP president.
However on October 1, Akhilesh stripped Shivpal of two of his ministerial portfolios viz. social welfare and minor irrigation and allotted these to other ministers. Earlier, Shivpal had been relieved of his key Public Works Department (PWD) portfolio, which is now being held by the CM.
On his part, Shivpal has reiterated that the merger of Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED) in SP was in effect and there was no need of fresh announcement in this regard. On June 21, Shivpal had announced the merger of the two parties in the presence of QED president Afzal Ansari, the elder brother of incarcerated mafia don and legislator Mukhtar Ansari.
However, Akhilesh had sternly opposed the decision and the SP parliamentary board had called off the decision.
The reiteration of the merger with QED was apparently taken and approved by Mulayam to keep Shivpal in good humour and give a message to Akhilesh that he (Mulayam) was in control.
The 81-member SP state executive selected by Shivpal feature his aides, while Akhilesh’s confidantes have been relieved.