Lucknow, Dec 30: With the Samajwadi Party staring at a possible split due to open rebellion by Akhilesh Yadav, party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has called a meeting on Saturday of all those allotted tickets by him. The Chief Minister's camp, however, remained adamant on contesting against the official candidates of the party.
Hectic attempts were said to be underway on Friday by Mulayam to avert a split after the crisis reached a flash point late last night when Akhilesh "circulated" his own list of 235 candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections, parallel to the party's official list of 393 nominees.
Mulayam has convened a meeting in Lucknow on December 31 of the 393 candidates who have been allotted tickets by him. Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats. Party insiders see the meeting with immense significance as the SP chief was likely gauge the sentiments of the candidates and conduct a fresh review of the list amid fears that the battle for control in SP left the party cadres divided and highly confused at grassroots level.
This morning, Shivpal Yadav, the uncle of Akhilesh, met his brother Mulayam for nearly an hour, but it was not immediately known what transpired at the meeting. Shivpal did not answer questions of reporters waiting outside Mulayam's residence.
Mulayam's cousin and SP General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav, who is Akhilesh supporter, asserted that there was no question of going back on the list prepared by the Chief Minister.
In an apparent attack on Shivpal, Ramgopal said many in the party do not want to see Akhilesh as Chief Minister again.
"But, the fact remains that people of the state want him back as CM," he claimed.
He said Mulayam had convened a meeting on January 1 to take a final call on ticket distribution, "but due to pressure (from Shivpal), he announced the list on December 28".
Akhilesh's list, which did not carry any signature, was made available on social media last night by defiant party MLAs who failed to get a ticket in the official list. Party observers said since names of 170 to 180 candidates figured in both the lists, it would be interesting to watch if they attended the meeting convened by Mulayam or opt out.
Akhilesh, who was present at an official function this morning, did not take questions from media persons. Though Akhilesh loyalists were enthusiastic to fight the elections "in the name of and as the face of the CM", it was still not clear as to whether they would fight as Independents or float a new party.
Prominent among those figuring in the list of Akhilesh are his hardcore loyalists -- ministers Arvind Singh Gope, Pawan Pandey and Ram Govind Chaudhary, who were denied ticket by Mulayam.