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Mulayam PM, Rahul deputy PM: Akhilesh’s formula for 2019

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav offered a political deal to the Congress on Friday, saying the Samajwadi Party was game for a tie-up if party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav was projected as the prime ministerial candidate for 2019 with Rahul Gandhi as his deputy.

 His proposal came at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, with Gandhi seated in the audience. The Congress vice-president smiled but refused comment.

“I am ready to go for an alliance with the Congress if Netaji is made the prime minister and Rahul Gandhi the deputy prime minister,” said the 42-year-old youngest chief minister of India’s most populous state.

“I also wish that Netaji’s dream is fulfilled … he also becomes the prime minister.”

It was a tongue-in-cheek riposte to reports about his father’s ultimate political ambition and speculation on anti-BJP parties cobbling up a Bihar-style grand alliance before assembly elections in 2017.

Yadav, a postgraduate from Sydney, scoffed at criticism that his father was the “super CM”, often upbraiding him public. “Does anyone feel hurt when a father scolds you … we are samajwaadis, socialists, and are transparent.”

The chief minister highlighted his government’s achievements during the session anchored by NDTV’s consulting editor, Barkha Dutt, and admitted at the same time that the party’s image has taken a hit because it did not focus on branding and marketing.

He said media was not projecting his government’s good work. “Samajwadi Party has balanced between farmers and cities.”

He countered calls to remove cabinet colleague Azam Khan, who is known to make controversial statements, including a remark that the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri on rumours of cow slaughter should be taken to the UN.

“Whatever we say is taken out of context. If you listen to Azam Khan properly, you’ll understand what he’s saying.”

Will he remove him from the cabinet? “Why should I?” Yadav shot back.

The chief minister asserted that the people of the country has the “right to eat and wear whatever they want”, but skirted a pointed question on whether his support extended to the right to eat beef.

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