Lucknow: In a clear snub to Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday announced candidates for 325 of the 403 Uttar Pradesh Assembly seats, ignoring his son's objections to certain names, and ruled out an alliance with any party for the upcoming polls.
At a hurriedly convened press conference in Lucknow, the SP patriarch released the list of 325 candidates, giving poll tickets to 176 sitting MLAs.
Names of candidates for the rest of the 78 seats would be announced soon, he said, flanked by state party chief Shivpal Yadav, while Chief Minister Akhilesh was away on a tour.
Surprisingly, the list carries names of Sigbatullah Ansari, who is the brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari, and Atiq Ahmed who faces over 40 criminal cases, including those dealing with murder and attempt to murder allegations.
Akhilesh, who is believed to be opposed to their nominations, had reportedly asked his father to intervene.
Another name which had upset Akhilesh, Aman Mani Tripathi who is arrested by the CBI in a case related to the killing of his wife, however, did not figure in Wednesday's list.
The choice of candidates for 175 seats by his warring uncle Shivpal had apparently put off Akhilesh, who prepared his own list of preferred candidates for all the seats and sent it to Mulayam.
Wednesday's list makes no mention of names of several pro-Akhilesh ministers and MLAs including those of Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Sing Gope (all ministers).
To a question, Mulayam said Akhilesh was "free to contest" the polls from any seat he wanted.
Akhilesh, who was not averse to an alliance with the Congress for the Assembly polls, has been saying that the SP alone would get an absolute majority and in case there is a tie-up with the Congress, the alliance would bag over 300 seats.
"Samajwadi Party is not forming an alliance with anyone," Mulayam said, ending the speculation of a tie-up between the SP and the Congress. Releasing the candidate list which clearly bore his and his brother Shivpal's stamp, Mulayam ruled out projecting his son as the chief ministerial candidate.
"SP has no tradition of projecting anyone as its chief ministerial candidate. Some parties do it, and in the process bite the dust. In SP, the legislators elect their leader," he said replying to a question in this regard.
Mulayam's announcement to go alone came just days after BSP supremo Mayawati claimed that BJP was exerting pressure on the SP chief and his family through Enforcement Directorate, I-T department and CBI to join hands with Congress so as to divide Muslim votes and stop her party from coming to power.
"Keeping in mind the chances of BSP coming to power in UP, it is being said BJP is showing threat of agencies like ED, I-T and CBI to the SP chief and his family in connection with DA cases and other shortcomings to divide Muslim vote," she had
Asked as to how many candidates have been selected from the list submitted by Akhilesh, Mulayam parried a direct reply saying that besides the Chief Minister, some other leaders had also given their own lists and all were to be accommodated.
Speculation was rife that SP was ready to offer 78 seats to Congress in case of an alliance and interestingly the ruling party has left out just as many seats for which candidates were yet to be announced.
The SP supremo said BJP will get a befitting reply from the electorate for demonetisation and also criticised it for not fulfilling its promises.
He claimed elections will be held before February 28 next year....