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The widening rift in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family will cost the ruling Samajwadi Party dearly in the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and some of its senior leaders are in touch with Congress to join it, Congress Chief Ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit said on Sunday. Dikshit, a three-time Chief Minister of Delhi, said the cracks in SP will benefit Congress as those unhappy with goings on in that party do not have much choice but to come to Congress’ fold.
Confident of an impressive performance by Congress in the Assembly polls in the politically crucial state where the party has been out of power for 27 years, she said some of the SP MLAs and mid-level leaders were also in touch with Congress.
“There are a lot people wanting to come to the Congress, certainly because they cannot go to BJP or BSP,” she told PTI in an interview.
Asked whether some senior leaders of SP are in touch with the Congress, 78-year-old Dikshit said they are a mixture of senior, mid-level and local leaders.
“Those who are disappointed with the reputation that SP has picked up are definitely looking for alternative and the alternative is Congress,” she said adding “a lot” of SP MLAs are also trying to get in touch with Congress.
“Many of them are in touch already. Openly they are not doing it now,” she said.
The SP has been grappling with internal rift mainly due to differences between party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother Shivpal Yadav and his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The elections in the state are due early next year,
Amid the feud, Mulayam on Friday had said the SP’s chief ministerial candidate will be decided by party legislators after the 2017 assembly elections, if the party manages to form government again. The announcement is seen as a setback to Akhilesh who was recently removed as president of SP’s state president.
“Of course it (rift in SP) will help. It will be harmful for them because it is the party in power. All the scandals and differences are not going to help them,” said Dikshit.
About Congress’ preparations for the polls, the veteran Congress leader said the party has been revived to a great extent across the state and people’s expectations from it have now grown significantly.
Asked whether she has been selected because of her Brahmin background, Dikshit said it was one reason but the “real reason was my performance in Delhi”.
On perception that many people in Uttar Pradesh still do not relate to her, Dikshit said she was a familiar face in the state because of her performance in Delhi.
“Yes, I have not been associated with UP’s politics but it is not that they do not know about me. They know that I am somebody who has done very well in Delhi.
“There must be hardly any family in UP which does not have somebody or the other either coming to Delhi once in a while or having shifted to Delhi. I am not an unfamiliar face. But yes the kind of familiarity of a person whose politics has been in UP is not there. But I do not think it will matter,” she said.
Born in a Punjabi Khatri family, Dikshit is the daughter-in-law of late Congress veteran from UP Uma Shankar Dikshit, a tall Brahmin leader who had served as a Union minister and governor for a long time.
The Congress feels making Dikshit, a Brahmin, the face of campaign in Uttar Pradesh will help the party win back support of the community.
The Brahmin community, a traditional vote bank of Congress, had shifted allegiance to BJP in the aftermath of the Mandir-Mandal politics.
A large chunk of Brahmin votes had also gone to Mayawati’s BSP in the past when she gave tickets to many candidates belonging to the community.
The community’s support determines the poll outcome in several seats in central and eastern UP.