SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will contest from the Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency, besides Mainpuri, which he currently represents in Parliament.
The decision assumes significance as BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will contest the polls from Varanasi, which is just 100 km from Azamgarh.
Mulayam, a former wrestler, had challenged Modi to face him and ridiculed his famous “chappan inch ki seena” (56-inch chest) remark.
There are rumours that if he wins from both seats, Mulayam will vacate the Azamgarh seat for his son Pratik Yadav.
After the Akhilesh Yadav Government posted a senior officer in Azamgarh about six months ago, it had become clear that Mulayam would contest from the seat.
This Mulayam loyalist officer had faced the Election Commission’s ire when posted in Mainpuri during the 2009 elections. The officer’s appointment had led to rumours that the Yadav chieftain would contest from both seats.
The party believes that if Mulayam contests from Azamgarh, which is at present held by BJP’s Ramakant Yadav , the SP will be able to counter Modi’s influence in the eastern
Azamgarh is dominated by the Muslim-Yadav combine and has been in news for bad reasons such as the arrest of several terror suspects. This district bordering Nepal has many Muslim seminaries and religious outfits.
The Samajwadi Party will contest at least four seats in Jharkhand in the Lok Sabha polls and is preparing to contest all 81 seats in the Assembly elections as the term ends later this year, a senior SP leader said on Tuesday.
“The party has announced names for three seats while the candidate is being finalised for Ranchi LS constituency,” SP’s Jharkhand unit president Manohar Yadav said here.
The party has fielded Ranjan Yadav from Chatra, Jaydeo Choudhary from Koderma and Ram Badan Ram from Palamau constituencies, he added.
Yadav, a former RJD leader, said the SP was pondering over contesting one or two more seats in Jharkhand.
There are a total of 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Yadav said he quit the RJD on February 19 and joined the SP on March 4. He was appointed as the state unit chief by party president Mulayam Singh on March 11. “I was associated with RJD chief Lalu Yadav for over two decades,” he said.