Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday named eight-time MLA and former minister Ram Govind Chaudhary as Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly and leader of the SP Legislature Party. The announcement came amid a number of names doing the rounds including those of stalwarts like Azam Khan, Shivpal Yadav and Parasnath Yadav.
What appears to have worked in the 70-year-old’s favour is his loyalty to Akhilesh. He was one of the few ministers who had openly supported the former chief minister during the tussle with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav over control of the party before Assembly elections. Chaudhary became a core member of the Akhilesh group during the family feud, which continued for over four months until Akhilesh was recognised as party president by the Election Commission. Chaudhary is an MLA from Bansdih seat of Ballia district.
SP spokesperson and MLC Rajendra Chaudhary said Akhilesh had been authorised by the MLAs to name their leader in Assembly during an earlier party meeting. With 47 MLAs, SP is the principal opposition party in the new Assembly, which has 325 MLAs from ruling BJP and its allies.
Chaudhary, who was active in student union politics and belongs to the Yadav caste, was elected an MLA in 1977 as a candidate of the Janata Party and has been known as a loyalist of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar during a large part of his political career. In 1990, he became a minister in Mulayam’s first government in the state. In 1993, when Mulayam had formed the SP and was contesting Assembly elections in alliance with BSP, Chaudhary contested as a candidate of the Janata Dal from Chilkahar seat, where he had lost to BSP.
In 1996, he contested as a nominee of Chandra Shekhar’s Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya) from Chilkahar seat and stood at the fourth position. In 2002, he again contested as SJP(R) nominee and won from Bansdih seat.
Chaudhary became a minister in Mulayam’s 2003 government. In 2007, he contested as a nominee of SP but lost to BSP. In 2012, Chaudhary had won from Bansdih and became a minister in Akhilesh’s government.
Azam was Opposition leader in 2002-03, while Mulayam held the post between 2007 and 2009. After he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009, the position was held by Shivpal till 2012, when SP returned to power.
Party sources said that SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has convened a meeting of party legislators here on Wednesday, a day after his son will meet newly elected party MLAs, indicating that differences in the Yadav family were not over.
– With PTI inputs.