The political fate of the Samajwadi Party’s Ayodhya hero Tej Narayan Pandey, who is also known as Pawan Pandey, appears uncertain in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
The party’s state chief Shivpal Yadav had announced Pandey’s expulsion from the party during the feud in the ruling party’s first family. But, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav did not remove him from his cabinet despite Shivpal’s recommendation.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered Pandey’s sacking after party MLC Ashu Malik filed an FIR against him for assaulting him at the chief minister’s residence on October 24, hours after a war of words between Akhilesh and Shivpal at the party office.
Pandey also had openly protested against senior SP leader Amar Singh on October 23.
“If Akhileshji says contest, I will contest. If he says back off, I will back off,” Pandey, the Ayodhya MLA who wrested the seat from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2012 assembly election, said.
It was the first time the SP won the seat that had been the bastion of the BJP since the Ram Temple movement in the 1990s. Before Pandey’s maiden entry into the state assembly as a member, the BJP’s Lallu Singh won the seat five times in a row in 1991, 1993, 1996, 2002, and 2007.
Pawan was 31 when he defeated Lallu Singh by 5,405 votes.
The SP won an absolute majority in 2012 and the Ayodhya victory was the icing on the cake for the party. Pandey’s victory earned him praise from Mulayam in public.
Before that, no one had ever imagined that the party could win Ayodhya, where Mulayam as the chief minister had ordered police firing on kar sewaks (volunteers) on October 30, 1990. Mulayam’s coalition government fell a few months later.
Without him, the SP’s chances in Ayodhya appear slim.
“I am confident of getting the ticket. Netaji (SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav) will give it to me; Akhilesh ji will give it to me. It was Akhilesh ji who ensured the ticket for me on this seat,” Pandey told Hindustan Times on Thursday.
“I am wholeheartedly preparing for the elections and have nurtured my constituency well since I became the MLA,” he said.
The ruling party has declared its candidates for all the seats that it had lost and has begun working on finalising the nominees for those it won the last time.
Pandey joined the SP in 1998 and won Lucknow University students’ union vice-president’s election in 2004.