Akhilesh Yadav
Akhilesh YadavIANS

The Samajwadi Party (SP) has officially announced current Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as the party's chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming assembly elections in the state, scotching rumours of infighting in the party and putting forward a united face before the upcoming elections.

SP vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda announced the party's decision to project Akhilesh as the chief ministerial candidate in Lucknow on Monday. He also said that party chief and Akhilesh's father Mulayam Singh Yadav's earlier comment that the SP legislature party would choose the candidate, was about the procedure and not a hint that Akhilesh could be sidelined.

The SP has been besieged by internal strife for quite some time now, with Akhilesh squaring off with uncle Shivpal Yadav over a number of policy decisions. Akhilesh has also had differences of opinion with his father, and their loyalists have had to suffer the consequences, being removed from top posts or having powers taken away from them.

However, the hatchet seems buried deep for the moment, with the SP announcing Akhilesh as its chief ministerial candidate. Nanda said on Monday: "The party will contest the 2017 assembly elections with Akhilesh as chief ministerial candidate. This is the official party line and the decision of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav."

Other parties' strategy

UP is a politically significant state, which has sent the most number of prime ministers to power, including Narendra Modi, who is a Member of Parliament from the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. This gives his party, the BJP, a position of power in the state that it will look to exploit in the upcoming election and topple the SP government.

On the other hand, the Congress has also been trying to regain the influence it once had in the state, with vice-president and Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi conducting a month-long Kisan Yatra -- farmers' march or rally -- throughout UP. However, the only reason it managed to grab headlines was when people stole cots from the Khat Sabhas organised as part of the rally.