The contentious issue of ticket distribution today again exposed the rift in Samajwadi Party with state party chief Shivpal Yadav attacking chief minister Akhilesh Yadav over his reported parallel list of candidates.
The choice of candidates for 175 seats by Shivpal has apparently not gone down well with his defiant nephew Akhilesh who, according to party insiders, is understood to have prepared his own list of preferred candidates for all the 403 UP Assembly seats and sent it to his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.
This is Akhilesh’s second power play in the last three days. On 24 December, Akhilesh had met first-time MLAs at his residence and promised to give them party tickets.
Chinks in the ruling party’s armour once again came to the fore when Shivpal sent out a series of tweets virtually suggesting that he was the boss when it came to distributing tickets for the assembly elections due in few months.
Shivpal said the name of 175 candidates were already finalised and warned that any indiscipline would not be tolerated as it may harm the party’s image. He asserted that distribution of party tickets was done on on the basis of winnability.
“Tickets will be distributed based on wins. So far 175 people have been given tickets. The Chief Minister will be selected by the legislature party which is according to the party’s constitution. No indiscipline will be tolerated in the party,” he tweeted in Hindi.
While party sources maintained that Mulayam will take the final call on candidates, UP minister Juhi Singh sought to downplay any controversy over ticket distribution saying it was a non-issue.
During their recent public turf war after Akhilesh was replaced with Shivpal as party chief by Mulayam, the former had insisted that he should have a say in the ticket distribution as the election was a test of his government’s performance.
The latest development comes after Mulayam had brokered a fragile peace between Shivpal and Akhilesh as the infighting threatened to damage SP’s poll prospects.
As differences over ticket distribution cropped up, opposition parties took a swipe at the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.
“This is a sign that the party (SP) is in total disarray and they talk about giving a fight to the BJP,” UP BJP General Secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.
The tussle in Samajwadi Party will prove to be its nemesis in the coming polls, Pathak said.
Congress termed the development as SP’s “internal matter”.
Some party insiders said the tweets could be a sign of yet another war brewing between Shivpal and Akhilesh over seat distribution.
When a list of 23 candidates was released on December 11, it bore the stamp of Mulayam and Shivpal as sitting Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED) MLA Sigbatullah Ansari was nominated from Mohammadabad in Ghazipur – a seat he presently holds.
Shival had backed QED’s merger with Samajwadi Party which had been openly opposed by the chief minister and the issue clearly became a flashpoint in the feud in the Yadav clan.
Akhilesh is believed to be opposed to nomination of Sigbatullah, who is the brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari. He also does not favour giving ticket to Atiq Ahmed from Kanpur, who faces over 40 criminal cases including murder and attempt to murder, and Aman Mani Tripathi, now arrested by CBI in a case related to the killing of his wife.
These names have reportedly upset Akhilesh Yadav so much, sources say, that he has sounded out his father Mulayam and asked him to intervene.
In one of his tweets, Shivpal said, “It’s all about winnability.”
However, SP National General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav, who is close to Akhilesh, recently said he would have the “final say” in the matter by virtue of the posts he held in the party and SP Parliamentary Board.
“Tickets are finalised by member secretary of the board, the post which I hold. My say will be final in ticket distribution,” Ramgopal had said.