SP may witness cross voting in presidential poll

With the Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Akhilesh Yadav and his father and SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav taking a diametrically opposite stand, the party may witness cross voting in the forthcoming presidential poll, much to the liking of the BJP.
Mulayam has indicated that he will support the NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind while Akhilesh has declared that he will back the opposition's nominee Meira Kumar.
According to the sources in the SP here, the MLAs and MPs, who are loyal to Mulayam, may throw their lot behind the NDA candidate. Senior SP leader and Mulayam's younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav has already made it clear that he will follow the directive of the SP patron on whom to support in the presidential polls.
Sources said that barring Mulayam all the other four SP Lok Sabha members belonged to the Akhilesh camp and were likely to heed the latter's advice on the issue. The situation is somewhat different in the SP group in the Rajya Sabha. While expelled SP leader Amar Singh is likely to go by the advice of Mulayam, a few more RS members may ditch Akhilesh.
SP currently has five members in Lok Sabha and 18 in the Rajya Sabha. Its strength in the UP assembly is 47.  Sources said that around half a dozen SP legislators may also go with Mulayam on the issue. SP leadership has warned that voting in defiance of the party direction could attract disciplinary action.
Sources said that efforts were on to persuade Mulayam to change his stand on the issue. The SP patron, however, on Monday indicated that he was still in favour of Kovind.
''The better candidate will win.....there is a need to rise above party politics on this issue,'' Mulayam said in an informal chat with reporters here.

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