Going by their separate lists of candidates chosen to contest the upcoming Assembly elections, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav appears to be in favour of giving most sitting MLAs another chance while Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and state party president Shivpal Yadav are more inclined to replacing at least 55 winners of the 2012 polls.
Mulayam and Shivpal, who have announced names of candidates for 395 seats, have chosen new candidates on as many as 55 seats represented by sitting SP MLAs who are still in the party. On the other hand, Akhilesh, who has released his own list of 235 candidates, has accommodated most of the sitting MLAs, replacing just one — Michael Chandra from Dhanaura seat of Amroha district. Chandra, however, claimed that his name featured in the chief minister’s list.
The sitting MLAs that Mulayam has replaced with new candidates include ministers Arvind Kumar Singh “Gope” from Ram Nagar in Barabanki district, Ram Govind Chaudhary from Bansdih seat of Ballia, Bhagwat Sharan Gangwar from Nawabganj in Bareilly district and Shailendra Yadav “Lalai” from Shahganj seat of Jaunpur district. Most sitting MLAs are considered close to Akhilesh, having offered him their support over the past few months as a feud brewed in the party’s first family. It was Akhilesh, then state party president, who had chosen a majority of them as candidates for the 2012 elections.
The chief minister has also selected Kaushal Kishore alias Munna Singh — the Congress MLA from Nautanwa seat of Maharajganj district — as his party’s candidate. Earlier, Shivpal had announced the name of Amanmani Tripathi — who is an accused in his wife’s murder case and the son of former minister Amarmani Tripathi — from the same seat. Mulayam announced the name of Amarmani’s uncle Shyam Narayan Tiwari as the party’s candidate from neighbouring Pharenda seat in place of sitting MLA Vinodmani Tripathi, who is considered to be close to Kaushal Kishore, said to be a political rival of Amarmani.
Among the seats that sparked the most friction between Akhilesh and Mulayam is Ram Nagar of Barabanki, where Mulayam has chosen Rajya Sabha MP Beni Prasad Verma’s son as a candidate in place of sitting MLA “Gope”, who is allegedly close to Akhilesh. The selection of Ashish Pandey, son of former MLA Jai Narayan Pandey, in place of sitting MLA and minister Tej Narain alias Pawan Pandey on the Ayodhya seat has also resulted in resentment in the Akhilesh camp.
In his list, Akhilesh has not named candidates for most of the seats held by MLAs considered close to Shivpal. However, he announced the name of Sangram Singh as party candidate from Phephana, a seat which was unsuccessfully contested by former minister Ambika Chaudhary. Chaudhary, who was removed from the Cabinet by Akhilesh, was appointed spokesperson by Shivpal after he became state SP president.