Updated: January 4, 2017 7:53:51 pm
In a surprise confession to news channel NDTV, Congress party’s chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday said that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav would make a better CM candidate than her. The 78-year-old Congress leader also added that she would “be happy” to make way for Akhilesh, who is nearly 30 years her junior. “Akhilesh Yadav is a much better Chief Ministerial candidate than me,” she told NDTV. Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh are in favour of a pre-poll pact, despite the party high command likening the infighting within the Samajwadi Party to a 90s soap opera. Most state Congress are of the view that Akhilesh’s “clean” and “popular” image would help in defeating “communal forces”.
With both parties holding cards close to their chest, it is difficult to predict how this would play out before the first phase of polling begins on February 11. The Samajwadi Party has their own battles to fight within the party as it had split into two factions — one supporting Akhilesh and the other Mulayam Singh Yadav. The battle for control over the party has culminated with the ouster of Mulayam as the party’s national president and his son Akhilesh’s elevation to the post. However, it has now shifted from Lucknow to the offices of the Election Commission in Delhi as both camps have staked claim over the party’s election symbol, cycle.
Before the party headed for a split, SP patriach Mulayam and the then state unit president Shivpal Yadav had flagged off Akhilesh’s state-wide ‘Vikas Rath Yatra’ to highlight the development works taken under his leadership. Akhilesh has so far not resumed the yatra with the turf war within the SP taking up most of his time. The Congress on the other hand is expected to make demonetisation their core election issue and highlight the hardships faced by the people due to the Centre’s move. Their 3-day bus yatra ’27 saal UP Behaal’ in July last year failed to attract crowds, and Dikshit returned to Delhi midway after falling sick. The BJP, meanwhile, has fielded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the party’s Parivartan Yatra in the state. Polling in Uttar Pradesh will be spread over seven phases and counting of votes will begin on March 11.
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