SP sounds poll alert; releases list of candidates
The move comes early with 18 months to go for the scheduled Parliamentary polls in 2014
Virendra Nath Bhatt
In what may come across as a shock to the Congress, the Samajwadi Party (SP), indicating that it’s ready for early Parliamentary elections, which is still 18 months away, announced its first list of candidates for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on Friday 16 November.
The move, which comes ahead of the crucial winter session of the Parliament beginning 22 November, is being interpreted as the party’s lacking confidence in the UPA-II coalition government’s ability to complete its term. The UPA government is in minority since its main ally Mamata Banerjee’s Trinmool Congress walked out of the coalition after the Centre announced FDI in multi brand retail in mid September. Banerjee’s walk out has made the support of the two arch rivals of UP politics — the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) — who together have 43 MPs crucial for the survival of the UPA II.
The SP on Friday also termed the appointment of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi as the head of the five member Election Co-ordination Committee for the 2014 Parliamentary elections as a `non issue’. “It’s a non issue for us, you know the answer and all have seen the achievements of Rahul Gandhi during the 2012 UP assembly elections where the Congress had finished fourth,” said Ram Gopal Yadav, national spokesperson for SP.
The first list of candidates, besides Mulayam Singh Yadav, includes Akshay Yadav, Dharmendra Yadav and Dimple Yadav. Prateek Yadav, younger son of Mulayam Singh Yadav is also said to be in the fray and may be fielded as a party candidate from the Yadav dominated Azamgarh in east UP, or from Farrukhabad, the neighbouring constituency to Kannauj, from where Dimple Yadav is an MP.
While releasing the list of candidates, Ramgopal Yadav said the list includes 18 sitting MPs, one minister of state in UP government and wife of another minister of state Kamaal Akhtar. The SP leader said the list of candidates for the remaining 25 seats would be announced soon. The SP has a total number of 22 Lok Sabha MPs. UP sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha — the highest in the country.
Claiming that no sitting MP of the party will be denied a ticket, the SP leader said, “Barring some unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances there will be no change in the list of candidates announced today.”
Defending the release of the list of candidates 18 months ahead of the elections, Yadav said, “All parties are doing so, the SP has taken a lead, moreover it helps to cut the cost of contesting the elections as it gives ample time and opportunity to the candidate to establish direct contact with electorate in the constituency.”
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.