Shivpal Yadav, who heads the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L) and is currently a Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA, on Saturday said he has "decided" to vote for Droupadi Murmu, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)'s candidate in the upcoming presidential elections.
"Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath jee had sought my vote (for Droupadi Murmu), and I have decided that I will vote for the NDA's presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu," Mr. Yadav told reporters in Lucknow on Saturday.
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SP ally Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar and Mr. Yadav on Friday had attended a dinner hosted by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath in the honour of NDA's presidential candidate Murmu, a development showing chink in the Opposition camp that is backing Yashwant Sinha for the top constitutional post.
Jansatta Dal Loktantrik chief Raghuraj Pratap Singh, also known as Raja Bhaiya, and the lone Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA in Uttar Pradesh, Uma Shankar Singh, were also present at the CM's official residence, sources in the Chief Minister's Office had said.
Raja Bhaiya also confirmed to the media that he, Mr. Rajbhar, Mr. Yadav and Uma Shankar Singh were part of the dinner.
SBSP chief Mr. Rajbhar, who was not invited by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav in the Opposition leaders' meeting with Mr. Sinha, has already said he will take a call on the presidential polls on his own.
Earlier on Friday, Mr. Rajbhar had said in Mau, where his party held a meeting, that the SBSP will make public its decision on the presidential polls on July 12.
But his presence at the dinner hosted by Mr. Adityanath indicates his inclination towards the NDA nominee.
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Shivpal Yadav, whose relationship with his nephew Akhilesh Yadav is strained after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls results, has been meeting Mr. Adityanath and attacking the SP chief on several issues.
Though not aligned with either ruling or Opposition camp, Raja Bhaiya's presence in the dinner shows his preference for the presidential polls.
The presence of BSP MLA Uma Shankar Singh in the dinner reconfirms Mayawati's announcement of support to Ms. Murmu, who is a woman and also hails from Scheduled Tribes.
Mr. Rajbhar's party has six MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. He had fought the recent Assembly polls as a partner of the SP-led Opposition grouping.