Akhilesh not automatic CM choice, hints Mulayam Singh Yadav

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has said that elected MLAs and the party’s parliamentary board would take a call on the next chief minister after the 2017 Assembly elections in UP.

On the raging debate over a uniform civil code (UCC) and triple talaq, he said every community should be entitled to follow its respective religious scripture and there should be no controversy over the issue.

Addressing a press conference on Friday to announce the kick-off of the party’s silver jubilee celebrations from November 5 with a meeting of party workers and MLAs in Lucknow, Mulayam Singh said, “The decision will be taken by the elected leaders and parliamentary board … this is how it is done.” The SP supremo was responding to a query on whether the party would contest the 2017 Assembly elections with Akhilesh Yadav+ as its CM face.

Dismissing reports of a rift within the family, the SP chief said his younger brother, Shivpal Yadav, had gone to meet his son, CM Akhilesh Yadav, in the morning itself. He added that the party had contested the 2012 Assembly polls under his leadership. “Everybody knew who would be the CM then… but I decided to make Akhilesh the CM instead,” he said.

Commenting on Akhilesh’s recent statement that there was no one to name him when he was a child, Mulayam said there was nothing unusual in this.

“It was not an uncommon practice then. Even Dharmendra (his nephew and Badaun MP) had decided his own name and informed me about it after he got himself enrolled in a school using his new name,” Mulayam said, adding that when Akhilesh was young, his mother suffered from ill health and his (Mulayam’s) sister looked after him.

Asked about his stand on a UCC and triple talaq, Mulayam said the issues were very old and there should be no controversy over such matters. “Every community is entitled to follow its own religious scriptures. There should be no debate on the issue,” he said, recollecting when socialist ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia had aired similar views at a function in Pune.

Asked about the SP’s election campaign schedule, Mulayam said it would start soon. “We will campaign on rath (chariot), bicycle, and even use helicopters,” he said in a lighter vein.

Mulayam said the party had nominated minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati as convenor of the silver jubilee celebrations.

Talking about the achievements of SP in the past 25 years, Mulayam said the party had been in power four times in the state and that he had been the defence minister of India. Referring to the recent surgical strikes, Mulayam said as that as defence minister he had handled a similar situation.

“This time, a very important leader asked me how I handled it and I told him how to go about the issue… and he handled the situation successfully,” Mulayam said.

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