The Samajwadi Party has released its first list of six candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav will contest from Mainpuri. In 2014, Mulayam Singh fought from both Mainpuri and Azamgarh, but chose to retain the latter. The Mainpuri seat was then won by Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, a member of the Yadav family.
The Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav is contesting the Lok Sabha elections in an alliance with long-time rival Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party in the heartland state that sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house parliament at 80.
The Samajwadi Party also announced that Dharmendra Yadav will contest from Badaun, Akshay Yadav from Firozabad, Kamlesh Katheria from Etawah, Bhailal Kol from Robertsganj and Shabbir Valmiki from Bahraich.
Mulayam Singh Yadav's Mainpuri seat is considered among the safest bets for the Samajwadi Party. In the past, he has represented Mainpuri in the Lok Sabha in 1996, 2004 and 2009. Even though he chose the Azamgarh seat in 2014, his victory margin was a massive 3.64 lakh votes.
However, the 79-year-old senior Yadav is going into the elections this time not on the best terms with his son. Late last month, he openly criticised Akhilesh Yadav's decision to tie up with Mayawati, questioning why his son ceded half the seats to the BSP. A week before that, the Samajwadi patriarch had baffled his party and others in the opposition by telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi in parliament that he hoped he would return to power.
According to the formula drawn up by the opposition bloc, Mayawati's BSP will contest 38 seats, the Samajwadi Party will get 37 and Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal will get three. The other two seats - Congress strongholds of Amethi and Raebareli - have been left for the party, which is contesting the polls by itself.
Mulayam Singh Yadav also urged those aspiring to contest the parliamentary polls to come to him if they wanted any seat. "Akhilesh will give the ticket, but I can change it," he said, addressing party workers at the Samajwadi headquarters in Lucknow last month.
Mulayam Singh Yadav has faded out of active politics over the past two years amid a feud with his son, who took over control of the party founded by his father months before the UP election in 2017. But while his younger brother Shivpal walked out of the Samajwadi Party and set up his own outfit, Mulayam Singh stayed put.