Lucknow, Sept. 23: Akhilesh Yadav has said he is ready for a general election and targeted the Prime Minister over the country's economic woes, appearing to join his father in trying to keeping the UPA government on tenterhooks with confusing signals.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister's remarks came at Mathura last night, a day after Mulayam Singh Yadav had said he would continue supporting the central government to keep away "communal forces".
"My party is ready for elections anytime, whether it takes place now or later," Akhilesh said, immediately adding: "My party, though, has been supporting the UPA government to keep the communal forces out of power."
Mulayam, known for his political flip-flops, had kept the government guessing yesterday by using a cultural event to visit Rashtrapati Bhavan, meeting NDA ally and Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, and pledging support to Trinamul if it moved a Parliament resolution over FDI in retail.
Samajwadi Party sources have suggested Mulayam will continue his "teasing" of the government till October 9, when arch-rival Mayawati is expected to announce her stand on the Centre's recent economic decisions.
"It seems the Samajwadi Party is playing a political game of running with the hare and hunting with the hound," state BJP president Laxmi Kant Vajpayee told The Telegraph today.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Swamy Prasad Maurya said Mulayam was keeping his options open to strike a hard bargain with the Centre, and was therefore trying to spread "a cobweb of confusion".
"He will certainly go for elections if money from the Centre for his son's government does not materialise. He has always been into political quid pro quo," Maurya said.
One of the most surprising features of Akhilesh's speech yesterday was the direct attack on Manmohan Singh, especially since he has been following a policy of leaving all comments on national issues to his father.
"He (Singh) has been in power since 2004 but only now is he saying that India's economic situation has gone from bad to worse. Let me ask him, 'Who is responsible for this? Is it the ruler or the people?'" Akhilesh said.
He added: "Let me reiterate that my party would oppose FDI in retail because it is not good for small farmers and traders."
Samajwadi insiders said Mulayam was in no hurry to have a general election.
"It is just political posturing by his son. Akhilesh does not want to be seen as a Congress ally while his father tries to bring together non-BJP, non-Congress parties," a source said.
However, he added that the party would start announcing its Lok Sabha candidates within a month, probably during Navratri.
"This will give the candidates time to nurture their constituencies. The party already has a tentative list and may announce 50 candidates in the first phase," he said.