Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav is likely to contest next month’s UP election from the Karhal seat in Mainpuri district, which is seen as a Yadav family stronghold, party sources said Thursday evening.
Karhal has voted for a Samajwadi Party candidate in every election since 1993, except for five years between 2002 and 2007, when the BJP flipped the seat. The seat is currently held by Sobaran Yadav.
Yesterday Mr Yadav refused to confirm buzz he could fight from his Lok Sabha seat of Azamgarh, only saying that he needed his constituents’ “permission” to stand in the Assembly polls.
“I will seek the permission of the people of Azamgarh if I decide to contest… I need to seek their permission because they elected me from there,” he said.
News of Mr Yadav’s (likely) battleground choice follows persistent speculation he could follow UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in contesting his first Assembly election.
The BJP on Saturday said Adityanath, a five-term MP from Gorakhnath, would contest state polls from there. Sources told NDTV the BJP’s move had ramped up pressure on Akhilesh Yadav.
In November, Akhilesh Yadav told reporters he would not contest the election. His party, however, had other ideas and rushed to clarify that a final decision would be taken by the collective.
In December Mr Yadav told NDTV: “If the party wants, I will contest the election. I had said earlier too that if the party decides, I will contest the election in 2022.”
He made similar statements over the next few weeks, heightening buzz that he could make his Assembly polls debut this time – at the head of a meticulously stitched “rainbow” alliance of regional parties that is widely seen as posing a serious threat to the BJP’s re-election bid.