Lucknow: After giving indications that he might support the NDA’s presidential candidate, Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday attended a dinner hosted by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Yadav was among the first to reach the chief minister’s official residence, 5, Kalidas Marg in Lucknow.
Governor Ram Naik, deputy chief ministers Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, a number of UP ministers and senior BJP leaders also attended the dinner.
However, Samajwadi Party president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav did not attend it.
“No, he (Akhilesh) will not be attending the dinner,” Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary told PTI when asked whether the party president would be at the table with PM Modi.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati too skipped the dinner.
The BSP chief had said on Monday that her party is positive about the NDA nominating Ram Nath Kovind for the presidential election but wished that the ruling alliance had named a non-political Dalit candidate for the top post.
“Although Kovind has been associated with the RSS and the BJP from the beginning but as he is a Dalit, our party’s stand towards him cannot be negative. It will be positive, provided Opposition parties do not field any Dalit for the post, who is more capable and popular than him,” she had said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mulayam Singh Yadav had extended his support to the NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind, saying he is a deserving candidate.
“Ram Nath Kovind is a good candidate. I have a very old relation with him. BJP has selected a strong candidate. The most important thing is that the BJP has a majority. Can’t say what will opposition decide now,” he told a TV news channel.
Mr Yadav had earlier indicated that he would back the NDA candidate even before the announcement of Mr Kovind’s name for the top constitutional post.
Nominations for the Presidential elections, to be held on July 17, ends on June 28.
The BJP had on Monday stumped the opposition parties by announcing the name of Mr Kovind, a Kori (Dalit) from Uttar Pradesh.
The prime minister arrived in Lucknow on Thursday evening on a two-day visit to take part in the International Yoga Day event on Wednesday morning after which he will fly back to Delhi.
On the first day of his visit, he inaugurated the new building of Abdul Kalam Technical University (AKTU) and visited the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) in Lucknow.