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Akhilesh Yadav is widely seen as the only real challenge for the BJP in the 2022 UP election (File)

Lucknow:

Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav hit out at UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Saturday, minutes after the BJP said he would contest next month’s election from his stronghold in Gorakhpur.

“Earlier they used to sometime say ‘he will fight from Ayodhya’ or ‘he will fight from Mathura’ or ‘he will fight from Prayagraj’… now see… I like that the BJP has already sent him (the Chief Minister) to Gorakhpur. Yogi should stay there… there is no need for him to come from there,” he said.

Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party has emerged as perhaps the biggest challenge to the BJP’s UP re-election bid, with the former Chief Minister’s “rainbow” alliance of regional parties from eastern UP (and, hopefully, votes from angry farmers from the west) threatening to oust the ruling party.

The two – Mr Yadav and Yogi Adityanath – have been locked in a bitter spat over the past few weeks and months; yesterday the Samajwadi leader aimed a series of jabs at his rival over the “80 vs 20” comment that was widely interpreted as a hint at the Hindu-Muslim ratio.

“Yogi Adityanath meant BJP ‘will get 20 per cent of seats in UP while the rest 80 per cent will go to the Samajwadi Party’,” Mr Yadav remarked, as he welcomed five ex-BJP MLAs – all of whom had resigned this week in a seemingly choreographed move – to his party.

All five are key OBC, or Other Backward Classes, leaders, and two – Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini – were (as of this week) ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government.

Apart from his swipe at Yogi, Mr Yadav also presented his version of events regarding the breakdown in seat-sharing talks with Chandrashekhar Azad’s Azad Samaj Party.

“He (Mr Azad) came to me yesterday (and) said he will contest. I gave Ghaziabad and Rampur Maniharan seats after talking to Lok Dal. Then he came, after talking to someone on the phone, and said he cannot fight… Whose phone was that? Who conspired?” he declared.

Earlier today Chandrashekhar Azad had hit out at Akhilesh Yadav after their failed alliance bid, claiming the Samajwadi Party leader “does not want the support of Dalits”.

More significantly, Akhilesh Yadav also said he “we will not take any more leaders into the party”.

“This is why we are saying now that we will not take any more leaders into the Samajwadi Party… We sacrificed a lot to bring people together (but) now there is no scope to take anyone else,” he said.

Uttar Pradesh votes for a new government in a seven-phase poll that begins on February 10, with results to be counted on March 10.



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