Lucknow: Amid high drama in the ruling Samajwadi Party on Thursday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav issued a fresh list of candidates for the Assembly polls in an open challenge to his father and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who had released another set of names on the previous day.
In a tit-for-tat move, Akhilesh on Thursday released his list of 235 candidates and making it clear to his rivals that he won't allow himself to be cowed down.
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 404 seats, including one Anglo-Indian member who is nominated by the Governor.
Akhilesh had expressed his displeasure after the SP supremo released the first list of candidates on Wednesday without consulting him.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Akhilesh's side made the announcement soon after he held a closed-door meeting with his father and uncle Shivpal Yadav, who is the general secretary of the party's state unit, here.
Though it was not immediately clear what transpired in the meeting, but the Yadavs were expected to discuss the tension arising from the candidature list.
Akhilesh's move signalled that he is prepared to face the elections without party's support - a major setback for the senior Yadav who have been hoping to find a common ground to rally behind the party ridden by factional feuds.
After the meeting, Akhilesh asked his aides to prepare for the elections, indicating that their meeting may have been inconclusive and differences persist.
On Wednesday, Mulayam had announced 325 candidates for the UP elections while the names of 78 others were withheld.
Akhilesh was not present at the press conference in Bundelkhand where it was announced, but his bete noire Shivpal Yadav was present.
The chief minister was particularly unhappy after 53 sitting legislators, considered his loyalists, were not given tickets, and also over the fact that he was not consulted before announcing the list.
Akhilesh had also expressed his reservation over the inclusion of some names in the list by his father such as Gayatri Prajapati and Rampal Yadav.
Also, the list that includes 176 sitting MLAs, does not mention the names of several pro-Akhilesh ministers and MLAs.
Akhilesh has included Pawan Pandey, Indal Rawat, Arvind Singh Gope, Atul Pradhan, Brij Lal Sonkar, Ram Govind Chaudhary in his list, while those in Mulayam's list like Ateeq Ahmad, Rampal Yadav, and Amanmani Tripathi find no mention in it.
The ruling SP has 224 seats in the 408-member assembly.
Reacting to the developments, MLA and pro-Akhilesh camp Brijlal Sonkar said, "We all want Akhilesh to become the CM again, and in 2019, we want to take him to Delhi to make him the PM."
MLA Indal Rawat said, "Those close to the CM were denied party tickets this time."