Uttar Pradesh Election 2017: Akhilesh likely to ask ignored MLAs to contest as 'rebels'

The rift within Uttar Pradesh's ruling party, the Samajwadi Party came out in the open on Thursday with sources saying that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is planning to give the go-ahead to his supporters to contest as rebels in the upcoming state Assembly election. The development comes a day after party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav announced announced a list of 325 contestants for as many Assembly seats for the 2017 election. Coming after the goings-on in the ruling party over the last one year, the announcement looks more of an assertion by the old guard than a reflection of change. Mulayam did not include some big names, who are incidentally pro-Akhilesh ministers and MLAs, including Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Sing Gope.

SP leaders arrive for the meeting at CM Akhilesh's residence on Thursday. Image courtesy: Naveen Lal Suri (Network18)

SP leaders arrive for the meeting at CM Akhilesh's residence on Thursday. Image courtesy: Naveen Lal Suri (Network18)

A clearly upset Akhilesh on Thursday met his supporters at his 5-Kalidas Marg residence here and later spoke to his father and party patriarch Mulayam Singh to convey his displeasure over the list of candidates from which names of his close confidants were missing, party sources said. Hectic political activities began right from the morning with party leaders gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam. A big crowd also assembled outside Shivpal's residence.

Party sources said the chief minister, before meeting Mulayam, met legislators and office bearers who do not figure in the list of nominees. The list, which includes 176 sitting MLAs, announced by Mulayam and Shivpal in the absence of Akhilesh, has left out several pro-Akhilesh ministers, including Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Singh Gope, and does not carry names of over 50 sitting MLAs. Besides, 10 ministers, including Shivpal, sacked by the chief minister over the past few months have got tickets. These former ministers were in open defiance of Akhilesh and it paid off.

Party sources told News18 that Akhilesh is likely to sack few others after Thursday's meeting. The incident brought back unsavoury memories of infighting in the ruling party, when the uncle and nephew sparred over crucial decisions ahead of the crucial state Assembly polls slated to take place early in 2017. The latest power-play has confused party workers because they are now unsure about the status of the list of people who will get the ticket to run in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

SP MLC Udayveer Singh told News18 that Shivpal, with help from Amar Singh, was behind the rift between Akhilesh and Mulayam. News18 reported party sources said MLAs, state ministers and office bearers who have been left out of the list of nominees attended the meeting at Akhilesh's residence in Lucknow around 11 am. Prominent leaders like Gope, Abhishek Mishra, Pandey, Balram Yadav and Dharmendra Yadav, were present at Thursday's meeting. "Akhilesh is likely to pitch for tickets to those who were not included in the list prepared by Mulayam. Chief minister will also speak to Mulayam over candidate's list," sources were quoted in the report as saying.

"The list does not include names of certain candidates who are sure to win. I will take it up with the SP chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and they should be given tickets," an upset Akhilesh had said on Wednesday night. In a late night tit-for-tat action, the chief minister struck back sacking two Shivpal loyalists — Surabhi Shukla, vice-chairperson of UP Awas Vikas Parishad and her husband Sandeep Shukla from the post of advisor of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. Sandeep has been fielded from Sultanpur Sadar seat.

Akhilesh met first-time MLAs at his residence on 26 December and promised them to give party tickets. On 25 December, Akhilesh defied his uncle and and party's state president Shivpal Yadav and prepared a list of 403 candidates which he handed over to Mulayam, who had then refused to accept the list. A miffed Shivpal cried foul and said that the name of 175 candidates were already finalised. He also immediately tweeted out that the MLAs would be chosen on the basis of their merit. Akhilesh, meanwhile, said that his record is the strength on which the Samajwadi Party runs.

"The party will not tolerate any indiscipline that might hurt party’s image,” he tweeted, at around 4pm, an hour after Akhilesh submitted his list to his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Visuals from the Samajwadi Party meet in Lucknow. Image courtesy: Naveen Lal Suri/Network18

Visuals from the Samajwadi Party meet in Lucknow. Image courtesy: Naveen Lal Suri/Network18

The SP supremo also made very clear his differene with Akhilesh on the issue of pre-poll alliance by ruling out any pact for a gathbandhan or maha-gathbandhan and even refused to project a chief ministerial candidate, dealing a serious blow to his son at a time when polls are to be announced very soon. Out of the 325 names announced by Mulayam, 218 tally with the panel submitted by Akhilesh to the SP chief, but 107 names do not match with the list given by the chief minister, indicating their sharp differences.

Hindustan Times also reported that Akhilesh dropped three ministers he sacked — Shadab Fatima, Om Prakash Singh, Narad Rai as well as serving minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, from the list All these ministers were close confidantes of Shivpal. Akhilesh's confidante Pandey, however, made it to the list. Interestingly, Pandey was expelled by Shivpal.

According to a report by News 18, Akhilesh has announced his name on two seats from Bundelkhand. Reports said that the chief minister is most likely to contest from Babina and Mahoba constituency for the upcoming Assembly polls.

In his list, Akhilesh also refused to recognise the merger between SP and the Quami Ekta Dal, something he had opposed earlier too but was overruled by Mulayam and Shivpal. The Uttar Pradesh polls are scheduled to take place early in 2017, and 2016 has remained a tense year for the party. Akhilesh and Shivpal have continuously sparred with each other despite the tentative truce Mulayam brokered between the two.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Dec 30, 2016 14:48 PM

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