Lucknow, Apr 4: The ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh today announced it would field a strong candidate against AICC president Sonia Gandhi in the May 8 bypolls to the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency.
Talking to reporters here, state PWD minister and senior SP leader Shivpal Singh Yadav said his party would launch a strong candidate against Ms Gandhi. ''Our candidate would be strong enough to defeat Ms Gandhi,'' he claimed.
Earlier, BSP national president and former UP Chief Minister Ms Mayawati had announced that she would not field a a candidate against the UPA chairperson. ''We want Ms Gandhi to return to the Lok Sabha as BSP wants to maintain a balance of power between Congress and BJP,'' Ms Mayawati had told her party MLAs here last week.
In a related development, expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti had announced to field a ''shadow'' candidate against Ms Gandhi. ''Since I am busy with the formation of the new party, I have decided to field a shadow on my behalf...I will spend a lot of time campaigning for my candidate,'' she had told reporters here.
In a significant development, Ms Bharti had also written letters to various parties to field a joint candidate against the AICC president. The SP had claimed that her letter was under consideration.
Ms Gandhi had quit the Rae Bareli seat on March 23, a day after the Budget session of Parliament had adjourned sine die, stating that she had been ''immensely hurt'' by the opposition charge that the government was making all efforts to issue an ordinance on the office of profit issue only to ''save me.'' She had also resigned as the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC), allegedly an office of profit that had raised the demand for her disqualification.