The Samajwadi Party’s first list of 16 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls comes as seat-sharing talks with the Congress have only begun. (Image: PTI/File)
Two other names from the Yadav family include SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s cousins, who are contesting from Badaun and Firozabad. The party has also declared candidates for Yogi Adityanath’s stronghold Gorakhpur and Faizabad, which covers Ayodhya
The Samajwadi Party’s first list of 16 candidates from Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is dotted with family names, with chief Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav contesting from the party’s bastion of Mainpuri.
This is a seat held several times by Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Dimple had won it in a bypoll a year ago after it was left vacant following the SP patriarch’s death. The two other family names are those of Akhilesh’s cousins – Dharmendra Yadav from Badaun and Akshay Yadav from Firozabad.
Akshay, who is the son of SP veteran Ram Gopal Yadav, had won from Firozabad in 2014 before losing the seat to the BJP in a tight contest in 2019. Dharmendra has also been an MP from Badaun in 2009 and 2014 before he narrowly lost to the BJP in 2019.
The SP has named Bhojpuri actress Kajal Nishad from Yogi Adityanath’s stronghold Gorakhpur, which he has represented multiple times in the past before he became the chief minister. The party’s choice for the Faizabad seat, which covers the all-important Ayodhya, is 77-year-old Awadhesh Prasad. He is a nine-time MLA from Milkipur and a close aide of the Yadav family, as well as a Dalit face whose stock has been rising in the SP.
The SP has given a ticket to Shafiqur Rahman Barq from Sambhal, where he is the sitting MP but the ticket for Moradabad, which has the other sitting MP Dr ST Hasan, has not been declared yet. The party has only three Lok Sabha MPs at present – Dimple, Barq and Hasan. The SP lost Rampur and Azamgarh in a bypoll after winning them in 2019.
Former Congress leader Annu Tandon, who had joined the SP, is contesting from the Unnao seat. Ravidas Mehrotra, another close Yadav aide and Lucknow Central MLA, has been given a ticket from the Lucknow Lok Sabha constituency. Katheri MLA Lalji Verma, who was earlier with the BSP, is contesting from Ambedkar Nagar as an SP candidate.
The announcement of the first list of seats by the SP has come even as seat-sharing talks with the Congress have only begun, and Akhilesh had made it public that he can offer 11 seats to the grand old party out of a total of 80 in the state.
Sources said all the 16 seats declared by the SP are seen as strongholds by the party. The move by the SP shows it wants to get on with the seat allocation with only a few months left for the general elections, while the Congress seems to be dragging its feet on the matter.