Akhilesh Yadav. Photo: AP/File
Lucknow: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest the Uttar Pradesh election from the Karhal constituency in Mainpuri district, his first assembly poll as a candidate.
"The party president will contest from Karhal seat of Mainpuri," SP national spokesperson Ashutosh Verma told PTI Thursday.
Yadav, who is an MP from Azamgarh seat, had said on Wednesday that he would decide on contesting the Uttar Pradesh polls after talking to the people of his parliamentary constituency.
The Samajwadi Party's Mainpuri district unit during the day gave a written request to the party chief to contest from the Karhal seat and he agreed, sources said.
Mainpuri has traditionally been a Samajwadi Party stronghold. The Lok sabha constituency has been with the SP for nine consecutive terms. Sitting MP and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is representing it for the fifth time.
At present, the SP holds three out of the four assembly seats in Mainpuri district.
Karhal, a Yadav-dominated seat, is represented by Sobaran Singh Yadav since 2007. The BJP had last won this seat in 2002 when its candidate Sovaran Singh had won the elections.
In 2014, Mulayam Singh Yadav won the Mainpuri seat by a margin of over 3.25 lakh votes, but later left the seat (retaining Azamgarh). His grandson Tej Pratap Yadav won the bypoll with a margin of 3.50 lakh votes.
The SP founder-patron again won the seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
In 2017 assembly polls, SP candidate Sobran Yadav had secured 1.04 lakh votes from Karhal, defeating the BJP's Prem Shakya by 38,405 votes.
Reacting to Akhilesh Yadav's candidature, the BJP said it's a "misconception" of the SP chief that Mainpuri is a "safe seat" for him. "And we will clear it (the alleged misconception)," BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said.
“In the Lok Sabha polls, his father Mulayam Singh Yadav could somehow win after the appeal of BSP chief Mayawati. This time, the BJP will puncture his cycle in Karhal (Mainpuri) so that he could not take the expressway to reach Lucknow," Tripathi said.
The Karhal seat goes to polls on February 20, the third phase of voting in the state.
This is going to be Yadav's first assembly election as a candidate. When he was the chief minister between 2012 and 17, he had taken the Legislative Council route.
Being adjacent to Saifai, the native place of Akhilesh Yadav, Karhal is considered a safe seat for him. Sources said choosing Karhal allows him to campaign for other candidates of the party.
The 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a marked change in the trend with both top rivals -- chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav -- entering the fray themselves.
Uttar Pradesh chief ministers since 2007 be it Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav or Adityanath in 2017 chose the legislative council route to reach the post.
While Adityanath is presently an MLC, Akhilesh Yadav is an MP. PTI