- Akhilesh Yadav will contest the national election from Azamgarh
- The Uttar Pradesh constituency is held by Mulayam Singh Yadav
- Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting from UP's Mainpuri
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest the April-May national election from eastern Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh, the party announced today. The seat is currently held by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is the party's candidate from Mainpuri, a family stronghold. The announcement comes days after ally Mayawati said she would not contest the Lok Sabha polls.
This is the first time Akhilesh Yadav is contesting from eastern UP. In the 2009 general election, he scored his third Lok Sabha election win from Kannauj. He vacated the seat after he became the chief minister in 2012. His wife Dimple Yadav, who is the current parliamentarian, will contest from the constituency next month.
Sources in the Samajwadi Party told NDTV that the decision to contest from Azamgarh has been influenced by it being perceived as a safe seat.
In 2014, despite a BJP sweep on Lok Sabha seats in eastern UP, Mulayam Singh Yadav won from Azamgarh with a margin of 63,000 votes. The seat has a sizeable Muslim and Yadav population, which is the core vote bank of the Samajwadi Party.
Since 1989, the Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat has been won either by a Muslim or a Yadav candidate. In 2014, the combined vote share of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in Azamgarh was over 63 per cent. The BJP candidate, Ramakant Yadav, who was the sitting lawmaker in that election, polled about 29 percent of the votes.
Akhilesh Yadav's decision to contest the election has also brought to the fore the different styles of functioning in the Uttar Pradesh Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance. A few days ago, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati announced on social media that she would not contest the national election as she wanted to campaign extensively for her party across the state.
Sources in the BSP say the party chief did not want to get bogged down to one seat in the election. Mayawati, however, didn't rule out the possibility of her contesting for a parliamentary seat in the future.
"When I became UP CM first time in 1995 I was not member of either UP Assembly or Council. Similarly is provision at the Centre where a person have to be a LS/RS member within 6 months of holding office of minister/PM. Don't disheartened from my decision not to contest LS poll now (sic)," she had tweeted.
But both the Samajwadi Party and Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) have a different strategy in place. Their party chiefs and prominent leaders are contesting the election. In the RLD, Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary are contesting from seats in western UP.
Leaders from both parties say that their leaders contesting in elections is as significant as their campaigns across the state.