The Samajwadi Party Sunday said its president Akhilesh Yadav will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, presently represented by his father and party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. The party, which has announced the names of 20 Lok Sabha candidates till date - 19 from Uttar Pradesh and one from Madhya Pradesh, also decided Sunday to field its senior leader Azam Khan from Rampur.
Seventy-nine-year-old SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav was nominated earlier to fight from the "safe seat" of Mainpuri this time.
The SP founder who was left out by the party from its list of 40 "star campaigners" Saturday, meanwhile, was included in it Sunday after the omission caused a flutter in political circles, with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ruing the omission and terming it as an "irony."
Mulayam Singh's younger brother Shivpal Yadav, who has floated a new political outfit, Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia), following differences with his nephew Akhilesh Yadav, too reacted to the omission saying the SP founder has been "ignored" by the party.
The party's list of 40 "star campaigners", sent to the Election Commission Saturday, had no mention of the SP patriarch's name in it. But the SP revised the list Sunday and mentioned Mulayam Singh's name on the top of it before sending it to the poll panel.
The revised list signed by senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav also carried the names of party chief Akhilesh Yadav, senior party leaders Azam Khan, Dimple Yadav and Jaya Bachchan among others.
Ram Gopal Yadav too was enlisted as one of the "star campaigners." The SP had been announcing its candidates for various seats in ones and twos after releasing the first list on March 8, nominating its founder Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri seat, besides a few others.
The socialist stalwart presently represents Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency, which he had won in 2014 elections along with Mainpuri seat, which he had represented thrice earlier in 1996, 2004 and 2009.
Akhilesh Yadav's wife Dimple Yadav, who is presently a second-term Lok Sabha MP from Kannauj, will be contesting to retain her present seat. The other prominent party leaders whose candidatures have been declared include Akhilesh Yadav's cousins, Dharmendra Yadav and Akshay Yadav.
Dharmendra Yadav, a third-term MP from Badaun and the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav's elder brother Abhay Ram Yadav, too will be contesting to retain his present seat. So will be Dimple Yadav, the son of SP patriarch's cousin Ram Gopal Yadav. Dimple Yadav is a first-time MP from Firozabad.
The Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal have forged a pre-poll alliance led by BSP chief Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh for the April-May general elections. While the Samajwadi Party is slated to contest 37 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, the BSP will fight on 38 seats and the RLD on three.
The UP tripartite alliance has left two seats of Amethi and Rae Bareli for the Congress. The seven-phase general elections in the state is to start from April 11 and will last till May 19. The Samajwadi Party and the BSP will hold a series of joint rallies for the Lok Sabha polls, with the first one slated for April 7 at Deoband in Saharanpur district of the state. It will be addressed by all three chiefs of the tripartite alliance - Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Ajit Singh.
There will be several other joint rallies in the state with all the three parties' chiefs slated to address them together.