Samajwadi Party on Monday said Akhilesh Yadav would be the party’s chief ministerial face for the upcoming assembly elections, days after party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav refused to endorse his son.
Addressing a press conference at the SP state unit office, national vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda blamed the media for misinterpretation of Mulayam’s statement on CM candidate.
“Mulayam was speaking on the constitution of the party and the procedure for election of the chief minister after assembly elections,” he said.
Announcing that Akhilesh would lead the party’s election campaign as well, Nanda said, “My declaration has the approval of party national president Mulayam Singh Yadav”.
The feud in the party intensified on Friday after Mulayam said the CM candidate would be decided by the elected legislators and the parliamentary board after the announcement of election results.
The statement evoked sharp reaction from the party cadre and SP leaders were divided in their support for Mulayam or Akhilesh.
Some party leaders said Akhilesh had lost his father’s confidence and could be sidelined in the election campaign. The incumbent chief minister even announced that he would launch the campaign on his own.
SP national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Ramgopal Yadav shot off a letter to Mulayam on Sunday urging him to project Akhilesh as the CM candidate.
“The morale of party workers is low and it may leave an adverse impact on the party’s fortunes in the election,” he said, adding that Mulayam would be held responsible for the defeat and history would not forgive him for the wrong decisions.
Senior SP leaders Azam Khan and Rajendra Chaudhary as well as heads of the party’s frontal organisations rallied behind Akhilesh. As pressure mounted, state unit president of SP Shivpal Yadav on Sunday announced that Akhilesh would lead the election campaign and take over as CM after the party returns to power.
As the workers grew restive, Mulayam and Ramgopal held a closed-door meeting on Sunday evening in Delhi. Sources said Nanda was entrusted with the task of clearing the muddle and announcing Akhilesh’s name as the CM candidate.
Nanda also announced that Shivpal would flag off the third phase of Mulayam Sandesh Yatra from Varanasi on November 9.
“During the ‘yatra’, people will be urged to bring SP and Akhilesh back to power in 2017 assembly election. SP will highlight development of the state under (the) Akhilesh government and Mulayam will provide guidance to the party in the election,” he said.