Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday asked party workers to contest all the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh, hardening his stand a day after announcing his decision not to campaign for the SP-Congress combine.
The 77-year-old leader, ousted as the party chief by his son and UP chief minister Akhilesh, is unhappy with the SP’s decision to join hands with the Congress, once a bitter rival, for the assembly poll.
“The alliance (with the Congress) does not serve the interests of the SP. Go out and file your nominations from the seats that have been allocated to the Congress,” Mulayam told a group of workers who had assembled at his New Delhi residence.
He was still trying to persuade Akhilesh to exit the alliance, the three-time UP chief minister said, adding the Congress would gain from the arrangement at SP’s expense. “This is the reason I have decided not to campaign for the alliance,” he said.
The SP, he said, had grown because Muslim voters, once loyal to the Congress, had reposed faith in Samajwadi Party.
“With an opening now been provided, the Congress has an opportunity to regain the trust of the minority voters. This will harm the long term prospects of the SP and will destroy it eventually,” Mulayam warned.
His comments are unlikely to dent the alliance’s prospects, as most of the workers and leaders have already shifted loyalties to Akhilesh, who pushed for the tie-up.
Moreover, the process of filing election papers for the first two of the seven phases of voting is over. The Congress is to contest 105 seats in the state, 43 of which go to the polls in the first and second phases.
The Samajwadi Party will contest 298 seats. Polling opens on February 11.