Dropping a bombshell ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2022, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said he will not be contesting the poll himself even as he announced that his party had finalised its alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Former Chief Minister Yadav, who is an SP MP from Azamgarh and regarded as the CM face of his party. However, the leader on Monday said, "I will not be contesting the assembly election myself".
"Our alliance with the RLD is final. Seat-sharing is to be finalised," Yadav told the media on Monday. Yadav also said his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, who broke away from the SP to form the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia (PSPL) will get the “due honour” from his party.
The SP supremo, who was a Member of Legislative Council (MLC) when he served as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 2012-2017, did not give any further reason for the decision.
However, he did say later that a final decision on his contesting the polls will be taken by the party.
The RLD enjoys support among farmers of Western Uttar Pradesh and is on the same page with the SP on the issue of opposing the Centre's three farm laws.
The SP has already announced an alliance with Om Prakash Rajbhar's Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SPSP). In an interview with Outlook, days after finalising the alliance, Rajbhar said that his alliance had the support of the most backward and OBC community in Uttar Pradesh and that the BJP will be driven out of the state in the 2022 Assembly elections.
Terming his party's tie-up with the SBSP as a natural alliance, Yadav said people in eastern Uttar Pradesh have accepted it and it will ensure the BJP's defeat.
On the poll promises made by the SBSP to provide free electricity and RLD of providing over one crore jobs, Yadav said every party has its agenda .
"We all raise issues of farmers, employment, common man. Everyone is releasing their manifesto. If voted to power, our government will try to accommodate them and prepare a common minimum programme," he said
On whether he has held any talks with the AIMIM or Mamata Banerjee's TMC for the state polls, Yadav said there have been no discussions with them.
Asked about Congress leaders and also of a BJP and BSP MLA joining his party, he asserted, "The joining will continue. It shows that people are seeing the SP as an alternative to the BJP, which only spread lies and deceit people with promises."
He said that people of the state have not forgotten the pain and treatment meted to them during the peak of Covid and added that maximum cases were lodged against his party workers during the pandemic for helping people.
"SP workers were on the street during Covid peak. We provided all necessary help to people when government was missing from action and left people on their own to survive. Instead of helping, maximum number of cases were lodged against SP workers during the pandemic but it did not deter them," he said.
Countering the "tall claims of BJP of helping people", Yadav said, "Why not a single case was filed against BJP workers during Covid. As our workers were out for help, cases were lodged against them."
The Samajwadi supremo said people are facing inflation and youth are unemployed. Lashing out at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Yadav accused him of ruining the state.
People faced hardships during Covid peak and lost their near and dear ones for lack of treatment, non-availability of beds, and oxygen and now they will think twice before voting for the BJP, he asserted.
"The SP is the only party that can face BJP and stand tall before them in the interest of people. Farmers are also with the SP. This time there will be a change in the state and people of the state have made up their minds," he said.
(With PTI inputs)