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Why Akhilesh Yadav Chose Karhal, a ‘Safe’ Socialist Bastion, and Not a Family Seat

Karhal is an SP bastion – the party has won the seat six out of seven times since its formation. But even before that, the seat has been dominated by SP’s precursors, like the Janata Party, Lok Dal, and Bharatiya Kranti Dal.

The socialist base in the state goes back even further – in the first Assembly election of Uttar Pradesh in 1951, the Karhal West seat was won by the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party, and in 1957, by the Praja Socialist Party.

But Karhal is not a seat that has been represented by the Yadav family.

The family’s home turf is the Jaswantnagar seat in Etawah district, presently represented by Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav. Shivpal has held Jaswantnagar since 1996, representing the seat five times.

Mulayam Singh Yadav had represented Jaswantnagar from 1967 to 1993, losing just once, during the Congress wave of 1980. He had also represented Gunnaur and Bharthana in the past.

This time, the Jaswantnagar seat has been allotted to Shivpal’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia), and it is likely that he or his son would contest from the seat.

In some way, Akhilesh choosing Karhal is symbolic of his political messaging – it reflects his efforts to project himself as a socialist leader (his Twitter bio says, ‘socialist leader of India’), and not one who is just a product of the Yadav family legacy.

That’s why it’s important he chose a seat with an old socialist connection, but not a seat that has earlier been held by his father or uncle.

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