SP: Shivpal finds place in Akhilesh Yadav's list
Samajwadi Party on Friday released names of its candidates for 210 Assembly seats in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, accommodating Shivpal Yadav, the warring uncle of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, along with controversial state minister Azam Khan.
The party released two separate lists of 191 and 19 candidates for five phases of the seven-phase polling beginning on February 11.
Shivpal will contest from Jaswantnagar, the constituency sought for him by SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Rakesh Verma, son of Rajya Sabha member Beni Prasad Verma whose name had figured in Shivpal's list, was replaced by Akhilesh loyalist Arvind Singh Gope, minister and sitting MLA from Ramnagar seat (Barabanki).
Though Rakesh was accommodated in Kaiserganj, his sulking father told PTI that he will not contest from the new seat given to him as it was not his area of influence.
Azam will contest from his traditional Rampur seat while his son Abdullah has been given ticket from Swar seat (Rampur district).
The highlight of the list is inclusion of names of several Akhilesh loyalists who were left in the lurch in an earlier list of candidates that his father had released last month.
The inclusion of Shivpal in Friday's list of candidates indicates reconciliation between father and son.
A defiant Akhilesh had last month announced his own candidates after his father's list did not accommodate many of his key aides.
In the two back-to-back lists, the SP gave tickets to 59 Muslims, thereby earmarking 28 per cent seats to the minority community.
Analysts said it was not without reason that Samajwadi Party has given tickets to so many Muslims.
The areas figuring in three phases, mostly in phase I and phase II are dominated by Muslims.
These areas will also be a litmus test for BSP chief Mayawati, who is banking heavily on Dalit-Muslim vote bank, in the region which was once its favourite hunting ground.
Mayawati's calculations were based on the rift in the Mulayam clan but after the dispute was settled by the Election Commission, BSP has to rework its arithmetic.
This time, BSP is relying on Muslim support by giving them maximum 97 tickets (out of 403) and the poll outcome will reflect as to what extent Mayawati has been able to keep her Dalit support base intact amid intense wooing by BJP and also to what extent she can garner Muslim support compared to 2012.
Analysts also said Samajwadi Party could benefit from alliance with Congress.
The turnout of voters, especially minorities, in the first two phases could give an inkling of the mood of Muslims and determine if the overall contest will be between BJP and SP or BJP and BSP or whether it will be a three-way fight.
In case of no tie-up with Congress, UP might see a quadrangular contest.