Lucknow: Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has okayed fielding sister-in-law Aparna Yadav as the Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow Cantt, deferring to his father Mulayam Singh Yadav's wishes. It sets up what will be on of the most keenly watched in the UP election, with the BJP naming veteran Rita Bahuguna Joshi, newly acquired from the Congress, to contest from the seat. Ms Joshi had won the seat in the last election as a Congress candidate.
- Akhilesh Yadav agrees to let Aparna Yadav contest from Lucknow Cantt seat
- Mulayam Singh sought Lucknow Cantt seat for daughter-in-law Aparna
- BJP named Rita Bahuguna Joshi for the Lucknow Cantt seat
In the bitter power tussle in the last few months between Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav - consistently backed by Mulayam Singh - Aparana Yadav was seen as a staunch member of Team Shivpal, now sidelined in the party after the Elections Commission recognised the Chief Minister as party chief.
Akhilesh's close aides believe that Aparna Yadav's political ambitions extend to becoming the young face of the Samajwadi Party in place of her brother-in-law and eventually even its candidate for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
Mulayam Singh, then party chief, had named Aparna almost a year ago as the candidate from the Lucknow Cantt seat for this year's election. She has since been working hard to build a base in the constituency, which the Samajwadi Party has never won.
But just weeks before the election, the feud between Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav led to a takeover by the son, who has as the new party president, recast the Samajwadi Party's list of candidates.
Lucknow Cantt will not be a cakewalk for Aparna Yadav, who faces formidable competition in Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Ms Joshi is as much Uttar Pradesh political blue blood - she is the daughter of HN Bahuguna Joshi, a former UP Chief Minister, and has been state chief of the Congress, the party she quit in October after 24 years in it.
Ms Joshi had resigned as the Congress' UP chief in 2012, owning responsibility for the party's poor performance in that year's assembly election, which installed Akhilesh Yadav as Chief Minister. The Congress came fourth winning only 29 of the state's 403 seats, one of those Rita Joshi's seat; she had won by over 20,000 votes.
This time, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress are partners, but Rita Joshi is a BJP candidate.
Sources close to Aparna Yadav say the junior Yadav bahu remains unfazed by the hurdles in her way. "I am 100 per cent sure I will get a ticket from this seat and I will fight hard here and ensure victory for myself and the party," she said a recent function in Lucknow Cantt.
The mother of a three-year-old runs an NGO. Aparna is a post-graduate in politics and international relations from the Manchester University and a trained singer. Her husband Prateek, Mulayam Singh's son from his second wife Sadhna Gupta, runs a real estate business and a chain of gyms. He was recently in the news for his cool ride - a blue Lamborghini Huracan worth around four crores.