The list of candidates released by SP state president Shivpal Yadav has once again brought to the fore the tug-of-war within the ruling party clan as names of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s brother and another mafia don Ateeq Ahmad might not be palatable to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
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The list of 23 candidates clearly bears the stamp of Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal as Ansari’s brother and sitting Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED) MLA Sigbatullah Ansari has been nominated from Mohammadabad in Ghazipur – a seat he presently holds.
QED’s merger with Samajwadi Party had been openly opposed by the chief minister and the issue clearly became a flashpoint in the feud in the Yadav clan ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections.
Another controversial name in the list released on Saturday is that of mafia don Ateeq Ahmad who has been fielded from Kanpur Cantt seat.
Ateeq, an accused in the murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal, is on Akhilesh Yadav’s ‘blacklist’. A former MP from Phoolpur, Ateeq was also president of the Apna Dal from 1999 to 2003.
Though Shivpal said winnability and loyalty to the party have been the main criteria in selecting candidates, analysts pointed out that in the process objections raised by Akhilesh over some of the candidates appeared to have been overruled.
Though the SP has changed a few candidates, the name of Aman Mani Tripathi, who was recently arrested by the CBI for the murder of his wife Sara Singh, remains on the list.
The chief minister reportedly “did not approve” of his candidature and it was expected that the party might replace him.
The latest ticket distribution might cause fresh ripples in the Yadav family as recently SP National General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav said he would have the “final say” in ticket distribution by virtue of the posts he held in the party and SP Parliamentary Board.
“Tickets are finalised by member secretary of the board, the post which I hold. My say will be final in ticket distribution,” Ramgopal had said recently.
Ramgopal’s tough stand on ticket distribution came amid tussle in the party over the exercise in which both Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal wanted to have major say.
The chief minister has said on record that he would like to have a say in selection of candidates as he was seeking a second term. SP has also fielded two turncoats who came from BSP.
One of them is Hasnuddin Siddiqui, warring brother of BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui, who has been named for the Banda seat. Naseemuddin is considered a close confidant of BSP president Mayawati and is the Muslim face of her party.
Hasnuddin, the youngest of the kin, had initially been trying to get into BSP but Naseemuddin refused to get him on board. Irked by his brother’s stance, Hasan turned rebel and eventually joined the SP. In 2011, SP gave him a ticket to contest 2012 assembly elections from Banda.
But when Akhilesh objected, Hasan’s ticket was cancelled. Hasan embarrassed his powerful brother in 2014 Lok Sabha elections when he started campaigning against Naseemuddin’s son, Afzal, who was contesting from Fatehpur parliamentary seat.
Afzal lost the elections to BJP’s Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. Another candidate who recently joined SP after quitting BSP is Abdul Mannan who has been fielded from the Sandila seat.
Another prominent candidate is Abdullah Azam, son of senior minister Mohd Azam Khan who will be making his political debut from Swar Tanda Assembly seat in Rampur