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Mulayam in race from safe seat

Lucknow, April 3: Chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav today announced he would fight the general elections from Mainpuri, stoking speculation that there might be a replay of Bihar in Uttar Pradesh.

“If a woman from a kitchen could be made chief minister of a neighbouring state, we have more than one efficient leader to take the responsibility of the state,” a senior Samajwadi Party leader said.

Laloo Prasad Yadav had anointed wife Rabri Devi the Bihar chief minister when he was arrested in the fodder scam and had later gone on to become an MP. If Mulayam Singh is elected to Parliament and he wishes to give up chief ministership, he has six months to pass on his crown.

Mulayam Singh today said he was under pressure from party workers to contest and gear up for a role in national politics. There had been offers from Jaunpur and Azamgarh, he said, but he had settled for Mainpuri as it is one of the safest seats for the Samajwadi. “It is now the duty of Samajwadi Party leaders of the district to ensure my victory. I will file nomination from the constituency on April 15,” Mulayam Singh said.

Experts say Mulayam Singh could have decided to jump into the fray to give his party a leg-up in the national scene. They claim aggressive campaigning by him could fetch the Samajwadi as many as 40 seats. “If that happens, the party chief would play a crucial role at the Centre,” Mulayam Singh’s information adviser T.S. Mehta said.

Party general secretary Amar Singh said the Samajwadi was already in “expansionist” mode. “It is all set to become a national party as it has made its presence felt in at least four states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.”

Speculation has already begun in Samajwadi circles on who Mulayam Singh would anoint his successor if the need arises. Most feel the crown would go to his brother Seopal Singh Yadav. Some say son Akhilesh Yadav could be the chosen one. But a section opposed to dynastic succession is pitching for Amar Singh.

Others say the chief minister will make way for the BJP’s Kalyan Singh and happily pitch in his lot with the new government at the Centre.

Mulayam Singh’s decision has sparked whispers that he might be mulling Assembly elections soon after the parliamentary polls. That way, he will still have a plum seat even if the Samajwadi faces a drubbing in the state.

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