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Mulayam does a U-turn, will campaign for son Akhilesh as UP election heats up

The EC backing of Akhilesh is seen as his biggest victory in the bruising power struggle in the Yadav family that pitted him against Mulayam and his brother Shivpal.

assembly elections Updated: Feb 07, 2017 00:41 IST
Srinand Jha
Srinand Jha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mulayam Singh Yadav,Samajwadi Party,Akhilesh Yadav
Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav holds a mace as Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and PWD minister Azam Khan during an event in Unnao of UP. Father Mulayam Singh has agreed to campaign for son Akhilesh Yadav as the battle for the UP throne grows intense.(PTI file photo)

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday said he will campaign for the SP - Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh, in what is being seen as an acknowledgement of the poll strategy by his chief minister-son Akhilesh Yadav.

Mulayam’s climb down came days after he publicly voiced his opposition to the SP-Congress alliance, which Akhilesh had pushed through after gaining the Election Commission’s nod as the real face of the party.

The EC backing of Akhilesh is seen as his biggest victory in the bruising power struggle in the Yadav family that pitted him against Mulayam and his brother Shivpal.

On Monday, Mulayam denied any differences in the party despite Shivpal’s threat to float a new party after the poll results are declared on March 11.

“Nobody in the party is unhappy. Shivpal has not spoken to me or others in the party (about forming a new party). He may have said that in anger. Now leave it, a new party will not be formed”, Mulayam told reporters outside Parliament House.

Mulayam, a wrestler-turned politician, also said Akhilesh will be the chief minister again, a sharp contrast to his earlier stand that the new leader will be selected by the new MLAs.

Elections in the country’s most populous and politically crucial state will be held in seven phases starting February 11.

The SP-Congress front is facing a serious challenge from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP).

Out of 403 seats, the SP will contest 298 seats, while the Congress has put up candidates in 105 constituencies.

With just four days left for the first phase of polls, campaigning intensified on Monday with top leaders of the major contenders raised their poll pitch.

The first phase will cover 15 western UP districts, including riot-scarred Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies at Shamli, Muzaffarnagar and Iglas and said the alliance with SP “mirrors the bright future of UP”.

In Lakhimpur, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “manipulating facts and figures about UP.”

He also criticised demonetisation move and said it “had benefited only banks, not the people”.

BSP chief Mayawati, who addressed a rally in Agra, assured to set up a commission for traders who suffered due to demonetisation, as well as loan waiver to the poor.

She also warned the minorities that infighting in the SP would damage both factions, so voting for them would be a waste.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh addressed rallies at Chhata in Mathura and Tundla in Firozabad and targeted the Congress-SP alliance.

“The cycle of Akhilesh Yadav was already punctured and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is sitting on a punctured cycle,” he said in Chhata. He offered sops to farmers and tried to impress upon them that it was the BJP which was a true friend of farmers and had made maximum purchase of farm produce.

First Published: Feb 07, 2017 00:35 IST