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Samajwadi Party split to show in presidential poll as 12 votes head Kovind’s way

More than 12 legislators across the Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, and Uttar Pradesh assembly are likely to vote for Ramnath Kovind, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate.

india Updated: Jul 16, 2017 22:46 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal
Pankaj Jaiswal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Samajwadi Party,Ram Nath Kovind,Presidential polls
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav arrives for all party meeting at home minister Rajnath Singh's residence in New Delhi.(PTI)

With the Samajwadi Party still a divided house, its two factions are likely to vote for two different candidates during the presidential election on July 17.

More than 12 legislators across the Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, and Uttar Pradesh assembly are likely to vote for Ramnath Kovind, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate. The faction owes its allegiance to Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal Yadav.

On the other hand, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and his supporters have said they will vote for United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Meira Kumar. The former Lok Sabha speaker had visited the party headquarters to present a printed appeal for support on Friday noon.

The Samajwadi Party has five Lok Sabha MPs, including Mulayam. While three of the remaining belong to the Akhilesh camp, one remains a fence-sitter.

The party has 19 Rajya Sabha members, including Amar Singh (although expelled by Akhilesh). At least five of them, including Singh, belong to the Mulayam-Shivpal camp.

In the state legislature, the party has 47 MLAs and 67 MLCs (members of legislative council). However, as MLCs are not allowed to vote in the presidential election, Akhilesh will not be able to participate. Mulayam, Shivpal and Akhilesh’s wife Dimple, however, will exercise their franchise.

Party sources admit that the party is likely to witness cross voting on July 17.

While Mulayam and Shivpal have not made any overt pledge for casting the Kovind vote, they have dropped enough hints in this regard. “The BJP has picked a good candidate for the post. I have an old association with him,” Mulayam had said on the day BJP national president Amit Shah announced Kovind’s candidature.

The same evening, Mulayam also attended a dinner hosted by chief minister Yogi Adityanath for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lucknow. On June 27, Shivpal called on Adityanath to congratulate him over completing 100 days in governance.

A source close to Shivpal said he had the support of “nearly a dozen MLAs, including a couple who were denied tickets by Akhilesh”. He was referring to Vijay Mishra and Aman Mani Tripathi.

After being denied a ticket, Mishra contested from Gyanpur seat (Bhadoi) on a Nishad Party ticket and won, while Aman Mani Tripathi tried his luck from Nautanwa (Maharajganj) as an independent and emerged victorious.

The Yadav family feud first erupted in August last year. On January 1, 2017, Akhilesh was elected as the party’s national president through an emergency convention.

Despite their differences, Akhilesh allowed Shivpal to contest from Jaswant Nagar. He won, but that was hardly enough to save the party’s fortunes in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.

(With inputs from Sudhir Kumar)

First Published: Jul 16, 2017 22:46 IST