Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on March 24 declared his candidacy from the Azamgarh parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Even though Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati has declared that she would not contest the upcoming general election, Akhilesh picked the Azamgarh seat, which was won by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Akhilesh’s decision is being seen as an attempt to get support of the Yadav-Muslim vote base in eastern Uttar Pradesh for the SP-BSP alliance.
Azamgarh and the area around it, which comprises at least half a dozen constituencies like Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Lalganj, Ambedkarnagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Deoria, etc, have a significant voter base comprising of Muslims, Yadavs and some sections of non-Yadav OBCs. As per the seat-sharing arrangement between the SP and the BSP, the latter will be contesting from these constituencies.
The Muslim-Yadav voter base also has an influential presence in parliamentary constituencies such as Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, etc, from where the SP has fielded its candidates.
In the 2014 elections, most of these seats went in favour of the BJP because of the division of the Muslim-Yadav vote. The Muslim votes went to the BJP with the SP landing at the second or the third position.
"The primary agenda of the alliance is to prevent the division of these votes in order to defeat the BJP," an SP leader told The Indian Express.
In addition, it is said that the Dalit and Yadav voters may not come together in the elections due to local issues. To address this issue, the SP and the BSP have been holding joint rallies in many constituencies including Azamgarh. The candidature of Akhilesh Yadav from the constituency may also run in the possibility of uniting the Yadav and Dalit voters.
Azamgarh has nearly four lakh Yadav voters, three lakh Muslim voters and around 2.75 lakh Dalit voters.
During the 2014 polls, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh had defeated BJP’s Ramakant Yadav in the Azamgarh constituency by a margin of just 63,000 votes. BSP candidate Shah Alam had finished third. At that time too, the BJP candidate had received a share of Yadav votes while the BSP candidate had eaten into the Muslim votes.
Earlier, Akhilesh had planned to contest from Kannauj, but he later changed his plan and fielded his wife, Dimple Yadav from that seat.
The SP has won from Azamgarh in 1996, 1999 and 2014; while Akhilesh has successfully contested the general election in 2000, 2004 and 2009.