Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest from Azamgarh, which is currently held by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The senior Yadav is contesting from family bastion Mainpuri. This is the first time that Akhilesh Yadav will be contesting from a seat in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Akhilesh had last won a Lok Sabha election in 2009 when he became the MP from Kannauj for a third time. Yadav vacated the seat in 2012 when he became the Chief Minister. The seat is currently held by his wife Dimple Yadav, who is has been fielded again from the same seat for the 2019 polls.

The party on Sunday also announced that Azam Khan, the MLA from Rampur assembly constituency, will contest elections from Rampur parliamentary seat. The seat is currently held by Dr Nepal Singh from BJP.

The SP has so far announced 19 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, which it is contesting from Uttar Pradesh in an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Due to a sizeable Muslim and Yadav population, Azamgarh gives the SP a decisive edge over other parties especially since the BSP is now an ally and Mayawati not contesting the Lok Sabha elections.

On 20 March, the 63-year-old Mayawati said she will not contest from any seat because “it is more important for the alliance to win more seats than for me to win one”.

But she later said that not contesting elections does not mean she is backing out of the PM’s race.

“When I became UP CM first time in 1995 I was not member of either UP Assembly or Council. Similarly is provision at the Centre where a person have to be a LS/RS member within 6 months of holding office of minister/PM. Don’t disheartened from my decision not to contest LS poll now (sic),” Mayawati tweeted later in the day.

 

In its first list of candidates announced on 8 March, the SP fielded Dharmendra Yadav from Badaun, Akshay Yadav from Ferozabad, Kamlesh Katheriya from Etawah, Bhailal Kol from Roberstganj, and Shabbir Valmiki from Bahraich.

The SP named 40 leaders including Akhilesh Yadav as the party’s star campaigners but excluded Mulayam Singh Yadav. The list of star campaigners includes Ram Gopal Yadav, Azam Khan, Dimple Yadav and Jaya Bachchan.

The SP had allied with the BSP and the two parties will be contesting in 37 and 38 seats, respectively.  Despite ruling out an alliance with the Congress, the alliance had left Amethi and Rae Bareli to the Congress.