WITH THE feud continuing in the Samajwadi Party’s first family, the BJP is eying support from the faction led by patron Mulayam Singh Yadav for its candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the July 20 presidential elections.
While SP chief Akhilesh Yadav will support Opposition candidate Meira Kumar, his father Mulayam has signalled that he may support Kovind after he attended a dinner with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s official residence in Lucknow on June 20. Akhilesh and BSP chief Mayawati too were invited but they skipped the dinner.
Mulayam, who is an MP from Azamgarh, had earlier praised the BJP top leadership for picking Kovind. Other Lok Sabha MPs from SP are Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav, Mulayam’s nephews Dharmendra and Akshay and grandson Tej Pratap.
The BJP also hopes Kovind will get votes from at least six Rajya Sabha SP members loyal to Mulayam.
On June 19, Mulayam had skipped Akhilesh’s Iftar party at the party office in Lucknow. Sources said this was the first time that Mulayam did so. On Thursday too, Mulayam and his brother Shivpal skipped the birthday celebrations of their cousin Ram Gopal Yadav at Saifai. Referring to Mulayam’s absence at the event, Akhilesh had said: “Netaji is not angry with uncle Ram Gopal. He is angry with me. Hence, he did not turn up at today’s event.”
Shivpal, SP MLA from Jaswantnagar, had met Adityanath earlier this week.
Sources said some BJP leaders are in touch with SP MLAs and Rajya Sabha MPs. “It is our right to approach every voter in a democratic set up,” said a BJP leader, adding that there were some MLAs who want to enjoy the “support” of ruling party for a “better future”.
A senior SP leader said, “There are over five Rajya Sabha members who could vote for the NDA candidate because they are loyal to Netaji (Mulayam). But most SP legislators would vote for Meira Kumar.”
“SP will support Meira Kumar in the presidential elections,” SP chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said.
However, BJP state spokesperson Chandra Mohan said, “Following internal differences and losing the Assembly elections badly, SP is no more an organised party. Hence, their voters may support NDA candidate.”
Those who would vote on July 20 include 312 MLAs of BJP, nine of Apna Dal (Soneylal) and four of SBSP. While BJP has 71 Lok Sabha MPs in UP, Apna Dal (Soneylal) has two. BJP has three Rajya Sabha members from UP. BSP has 19 MLAs and three Rajya Sabha members from the state. Congress has seven MLAs, two Lok Sabha members and three Rajya Sabha MPs from UP.