The bickering in the Samajwadi Party came to the fore during the presidential poll on Monday when senior party leader Shivpal Yadav said over 15 legislators including himself voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind. In the state assembly to vote, Shivpal, the estranged uncle of party chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, said “his vote will also go to Kovind as ‘Neta ji’ (Mulayam Singh Yadav) had ordered so”.
He also said “there were more than a dozen legislators of the party who were toeing the line of former party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav”. The Samajwadi Party, which has 47 MLAs in the 403-member House, is officially backing the Congress-led Opposition presidential nominee Meira Kumar, the former Lok Sabha Speaker.
Before polling, the former Uttar Pradesh PWD Minister also held parleys with Nishad Party legislator Vijay Mishra and Independent MLA Amanmani Tripathi. Both have cordial relations with Mulayam and Shivpal.
Shivpal Yadav also claimed that some MPs of the party would vote for Ram Nath Kovind, who was “more secular and socialist”.
When asked why he was not following the party line, he snapped back by saying that his view was not asked for by the party leadership and hence it was not binding on him on what was the official party line with regard to the presidential elections.
“I have also abided by what my elder brother (Mulayam) said and am doing so here as well,” Shivpal Yadav, the Samajwadi Party legislator from Jaswantnagar assembly constituency of Etawah, said.
Soon after this, Leader of Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh assembly and senior Samajwadi Party leader Ram Govind Chowdhary refuted Shivpal’s claims and denied any party legislator had voted for Kovind.
He also claimed that Shivpal had also voted for Meira Kumar. “To say is different than to do,” he said. Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Kumar Lallu also refuted claims of chinks in the Opposition camp and said they were “united and voting en masse for Meira Kumar”.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader in the Uttar Pradesh assembly Ram Achal Rajbhar also claimed “the 19 legislators of the party were rock solid in their support for Kumar”.