The Samajwadi Party is headed for yet another father-son showdown.
Sharat Pradhan reports from Lucknow.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday once again embarrassed his son Akhilesh Yadav when he released the list of 325 candidates for the coming Uttar Pradesh assembly election, excluding several names recommended by Akhilesh.
Akhilesh, whom Mulayam had himself anointed chief minister of the country's most populous state, was out of Lucknow when the SP list was released.
Announcing the list, Mulayam also made it a point to assert that the party would not have any chief ministerial face in the coming election.
He also ruled out any possibility of an alliance with the Congress, which was being actively pursued by Akhilesh.
"We will fight the election alone," Mulayam declared.
It was apparent that unlike the last time when Akhilesh had been given the upper hand, this time around Mulayam was all set to give precedence to his younger brother Shivpal Yadav who was allowed to have his way in finalising the list of candidates.
Significantly, the list of 325 nominees for the 403-member state assembly contains all the names disapproved by Akhilesh and excludes the names strongly recommended by him.
The remaining 78 tickets have yet to be announced.
The list includes Om Prakash Singh, Narad Rai, Ambika Chaudhary, Shadab Fatima, Shiv Kumar Beria, Raj Kishore Singh, Raja Aridaman Singh, Yogesh Pratap Singh -- all of whom are considered close to Shivpal and who were sacked from the state cabinet at different points of time over the past four-and-a-half years.
Among those excluded from the list are Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Singh Gope -- all of whom are prominent ministers in Akhilesh Yadav's cabinet.
Defending the list, Mulayam was particular in asserting that "the names have been finalised after looking into the winning potential of each candidate."
He also sought to make it loud and clear, "No change will be made in this list now."
While Akhilesh was unavailable for comment, he told a television channel in Jhansi where he had gone to address a party rally, 'I will speak to the party president seeking restoration of tickets to three of my ministers whose names have been dropped.'
What further surprised Akhilesh was the inclusion of yet another controversial MLA, Ram Pal Yadav, who had not only been sacked from the party, but was also booked in a criminal case and sent to jail at Akhilesh's behest.
Evidently, the announcement of the list of candidates has once again brought the rift in the ruling Yadav family to the fore.
About two months ago, when the first phase of the feud within the Yadav clan seemed to have settled, Mulayam had clearly sided with Akhilesh, whom he also established as his undisputed successor.
Brother Shivpal was sidelined and not even re-inducted in the ministry where he held four major portfolios for more than four years.
This time Akhilesh is at the receiving end while Shivpal is having the last laugh.
When the party was seen as a divided house during the first phase of the feud, an imminent drift of the Muslim vote became visible.
Demonetisation brought some respite to Akhilesh on account of a sudden arrest in that drift of the Muslim vote. However, the fresh tussle in the family is bad news for the ruling party.