No PM dreams, says Akhilesh Yadav; to stay put in UP

Naveen Patnaik

In a significant political development just days ahead of the Assembly Polls in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia announced on Sunday that he has resigned from all his posts in the party, including that of the National President Legal Wing.

Even as Gandhi and Yadav have rolled out a joint campaign, trouble over seat-sharing had emerged earlier also when the Samajwadi Party had fielded candidates for five of the 10 constituencies of Congress bastion Rae Bareli and Amethi.

Mr Gandhi's party, the Congress, and Mr Yadav's Samajwadi Party want to use the occasion to stress their alliance as a viable option, said sources handling their joint campaign. Given his ambivalence, it will be worth watching if Netaji sticks to his statement that he will begin his poll campaign by seeking votes first for Shivpal and not Akhilesh.

After filing his papers on 31 January, Shivpal threatened to form a new party after the elections.

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He also said that he will campaign for rebels who were denied the party ticket but were contesting against the official nominees. They are annoyed that local leaders of both Congress and Samajwadi Party have filed their nomination papers while the sitting Samajwadi Party candidate was denied a ticket -and he has decided to make the contest tougher by fighting as an independent. Many of these candidates are now in the fray as Independents.

He added that the Samajwadi Party is trying to divert public from other important issues.

Of the 403 Assembly seats, the Congress will contest in 105 seats and SP in 298 seats.

In the confusion, the Muslim vote pie may eventually get divided between Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and the rebels, making the BJP's task easier. Then, like now, Mr Modi is leading his party's campaign for Uttar Pradesh.

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