On Mainpuri Campaign Trail, Akhilesh Yadav Seeks Votes In Name Of "Netaji"

The Mainpuri seat got vacated earlier this year after the death of Akhilesh Yadav's father Mulayam Singh Yadav.


Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is leading his party's charge for the Mainpuri Lok Sabha bypoll with a small public meeting every three to four km. The seat got vacated earlier this year after the death of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav. Former Lok Sabha MP Dimple Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav's wife, is the party candidate.

As the long convoy made its way through a state highway near Mainpuri, groups of party supporters stood with garlands, portraits of Netaji -- as supporters dubbed Mulayam Singh Yadav -- hoping to catch his son's attention.

At meeting after meeting, Mr Yadav invoked his father, asking for votes in the name of ''Netaji".

"This is Netaji's home, his area. The people of Mainpuri made Netaji what he was. I am sure each vote here will be in the name of Netaji," he told NDTV in an exclusive interview on the campaign trail.

Asked if this election was a prestige battle for him as the Samajwadi Party chief, Mr Yadav chose not to answer.

The party lost the recent bypoll in Azamgarh, the seat he vacated, to the BJP.'s Dinesh Lal Yadav. A Bhojpuri movie star, he defeated Akhilesh Yadav's cousin Dharmendra Yadav, who was the Samajwadi Party candidate.

Akhilesh Yadav did not campaign even once on the seat.

In Mainpuri, the BJP reduced Mulayam Singh Yadav's winning margin in the 2019 national election to less than one lakh votes.

This time, its big guns are out campaigning. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held a rally in Mainpuri today. Yogi Adityanath'a deputy, Keshav Maurya, launched a searing attack on Akhilesh Yadav yesterday.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Mr Maurya said, "We respect Netaji but this is not an election in his name. If that was the case, Akhilesh Yadav would not have ousted his own father from the party in his lust for power a few years ago".

Asked about the BJP attack, Mr Yadav made a sharp retort. "The BJP is a party full of liars. No one lies more than the BJP. I do not want to answer any accusations from the BJP. They need to understand that the people want to vote out of respect for Netaji," he said.

"Why are government officials threatening the Samajwadi Party members? Why is the BJP seeking votes not from the people but from government officials?" he added.

The BJP has claimed that Mr Yadav is making unwarranted allegations against the government and the party.