Updated: January 21, 2022 7:43:28 am
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections from Karhal seat in Mainpuri, the party said on Thursday, making it Akhilesh’s Assembly poll debut.
Mainpuri is seen as a bastion of SP.
When he was the chief minister between 2012 and 2017, Akhilesh had taken the Legislative Council route.
SP national spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary confirmed to The Indian Express that Akhilesh will contest from Karhal, a seat SP has won five times after the party was formed in 1992. The SP lost it only once in the six Vidhan Sabha elections since 1993 — in 2002, three-time SP MLA Sobaran Singh Yadav had won on a BJP ticket.
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Sobaran returned to the SP later and has won the seat for the party in the last three elections.
The move comes days after the BJP announced Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will contest the Assembly polls — also his first — from Gorakhpur.
SP spokesperson Abdul Hafeez Gandhi said Akhilesh chose Karhal for “emotional and strategic reasons”.
He said, “Netaji (party founder and Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Yadav) is from Mainpuri and has represented the seat several times. He (Mulayam) also studied at Karhal Inter College and later taught there. This move to contest from the (party’s) stronghold will cement our place in the region and ensure the party doesn’t lose seats in the Yadav bastion, like it did in 2017.”
Mulayam has been a five-time MP from Mainpuri. Karhal is a few kilometres from Saifai, Mulayam’s native village.
On Wednesday, asked whether he will contest the Assembly polls, Akhilesh had said he will first seek permission from the people of Azamgarh, from where he is an MP.
The SP had found itself cornered after the BJP had confirmed Adityanath will contest from party stronghold Gorakhpur.
BJP state spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said Akhilesh is “mistaken” if he feels Karhal is a “safe seat”. “His father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had a close win in 2019 Lok Sabha polls despite an appeal from BSP chief Mayawati,” Tripathi said.
Karhal will go to the polls in the third phase on February 20. Gorakhpur votes in the sixth phase on March 3.
In 2012 state elections, SP leader Sobaran Singh Yadav had won Karhal seat by polling 46.90 per cent of the votes, with BJP’s Jaiveer Singh finishing second with 31.22 per cent votes. In 2017, Sobaran polled 49.81 per cent votes, while BJP’s vote-share remained the same, with Rama Shakya getting 31.45 per cent votes polled.
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