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Rift in Samajwadi Party over choice of presidential candidate comes to fore

Differences within the Samajwadi Party over the choice of presidential candidate came to the fore with the party’s patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav taking a divergent view on the issue.

Akhilesh said his party would take a call on the matter after discussing it with other like-minded parties, including Congress, at a meeting in Delhi on June 22.

Differing with his son, Mulayam has endorsed BJP-led NDA’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind, saying it’s a “good choice.”

“The BJP has given a good candidate. I have a very old relation with him,” Mulayam was quoted as saying by the ANI.

In another ANI tweet, he was quoted as saying: “BJP has a majority, if 1% or say 5% (of votes) is required then BJP can manage it. Can’t say what opposition will decide: Mulayam Singh.”

Senior Yadav was also seen sitting next to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a dinner UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath hosted in Lucknow on Tuesday night.

Akhilesh skipped the dinner.

After a bitter family feud, Akhilesh in January staged a coup by getting elected the party chief, ousting his father.

Though Mulayam is no longer the Samajwadi Party national president and does not hold any constitutional post in the party, he is the leader of the SP in Lok Sabha. The party has five MPs, including Mulayam.

Akhilesh, meanwhile, also flayed the attempt to project Kovind as BJP’s Dalit outreach, saying, “The President’s post should be above caste and religion and caste and religion of a president (or a presidential candidate) should not be a matter of discussion.”

On a lighter note, Akhilesh said in Sitapur UP Governor Ram Naik would have been the right choice for the BJP for the coveted post for he had “worked very hard” to help the party win the assembly elections in the state.

“The BJP government in UP is the outcome of his (Naik’s) hard work,” the SP national president quipped.

Akhilesh was in Sitapur to “console” a family whose three members were killed by armed robbers on June 6.

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