As the battle for the 403-seat UP assembly heats up, Samajwadi party chief Akhilesh Yadav announced on Monday, that he will not contest state polls. Yadav, who is also SP MP from Azamgarh and the chief minister face of his party, said he will "not be contesting the assembly polls", in an interview to PTI. The 403-seat UP assembly where Yogi Adityanath rules with an iron-clad majority of 314 seats, is up for grabs in February 2022.
SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav says he will not be contesting the next Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) November 1, 2021
Moreover, Akhilesh Yadav has also finalised an alliance with Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD, apart from Om Prakash Rajbhar-led SBSP, Mahan Dal. He has also said that he is open to allying with estranged uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav's Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia (PSPL) and Sharad Pawar's NCP. Seat-sharing for all these tie-ups is yet to be finalised.
In contrast, Akhilesh Yadav's main competition - incumbent CM Yogi Adityanath who is currently nominated to the Legislative Council, will contest the polls from any seat from his home district Gorakhpur, as per sources. Similarly, other MLCs like Dy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya will contest from Sirathu seat of Kaushambi, Dinesh Sharma from Lucknow and Dr. Mahendra Singh from Kunda seat of Pratapgarh, report sources. UP's past three CMs - Mayawati (2007), Akhilesh Yadav (2012) and Yogi Adityanath (2017) have not contested Assembly elections, opting to be nominate to Legislative Council instead.
Similarly, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra - UP Congress' campaign face - is mulling to contest state polls from Rae Bareli or Amethi, both once known to be age-old bastions of the party. While party cadres have urged Vadra to contest, she remained ambigous. "That decision I have not taken yet (on whether to contest from Raebareli or Amethi.) As things develop, I will take the decision," she tol ANI recently.
Recently, six suspended BSP MLAs - Hargovind Bhargav, Mujtaba Siddiqui, Hakim Lal Bind, Aslam Raini, Sushma Patel, and Aslam Chaudhary and sitting BJP MLA from Sadar Rakesh Rathore joined SP in party chief Akhilesh Yadav's presence. This joining comes a day after general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's advisor Harendra Malik and his son Pankaj Malik joined SP. Two more top Congress leaders from UP- Lalitesh Pati Tripathi and Rajesh Pati Tripathi left the party and switched allegiance to TMC.
Previously on October 1, scores of top leaders from BSP, BJP, Apna Dal, Congress and two political factions joined SP. Top new joinees include Apna Dal national vice president Omkar Singh, BJP President Backward Classes wing Arun Kumar Maurya and several ex-MLAs from BSP and Congress. The two factions - Jan Parivartan Dal, Dalit Mahasabha merged with SP while other leaders like Bablu Sen, Rizwan Zaheer and his daughter Jeba Rizwan, Ram Prakash Kushwaha, Vinod Chaturvedi, Sagar Sharma, Manoj Tiwari, and Omkar Singh joined SP.