In a clear sign that Akhilesh Yadav may not be the chief ministerial candidate, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said on Friday that the elected legislators will decide who will head the government in Uttar Pradesh after the assembly elections.
"The elected legislators and the Samajwadi Party's Parliamentary Board will pick the next chief minister," Mulayam Singh told reporters in Lucknow, virtually admitting to continuing differences within the extended Yadav family.
This would mean that Mulayam Singh has decided that unlike in 2012, the party won't portray the young Akhilesh Yadav as its chief ministerial candidate.
The remark comes amid a bitter strife within the Samajwadi Party between Akhilesh Yadav and senior party leader and his uncle, Shivpal Yadav.
Mulayam Singh, however, insisted that there was no rift in the "Samajwadi family".
He also said there should be no politics on a Uniform Civil Code and people should be free to follow any religion in the manner they want.
Until now, Akhilesh Yadav, despite the power struggle with his uncle and state party chief Shivpal Yadav, has exuded confidence that he would again be the party's chief ministerial face.
Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls early next year.
Mulayam Singh made it clear on Friday that whatever the party was today, it was because of him (Mulayam).
Akhilesh Yadav had earlier told a journalist that all was not well in the Yadav family and that he would go it alone in the election campaign soon.
Mulayam Singh also praised his brother Shivpal Yadav, saying he was "everything for the party".