Modi free to contest from UP, says Mulayam

Lucknow, July 10 (IANS) Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav Wednesday said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was free to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from anywhere in Uttar Pradesh.

Replying to questions on speculation that Modi would contest from Lucknow or Varanasi, Yadav said: "He is free to contest from anywhere in the state though he is unwelcome as the people of Uttar Pradesh are peace-loving and would not like to be divided on communal lines."

Yadav has been critical of Modi, calling him a "media creation" and one who was divisive in his politics. Yadav had recently slammed a section of the media for giving undue publicity to Modi. He had said that the media ignored development in other states.

BJP leaders say that Yadav is rattled at the prospects of the "Modi juggernaut" rolling into Uttar Pradesh as it would imperil Yadav's Muslim vote bank, which would then be divided between the SP and the Congress. With a history of tactical voting by Muslims in the state, even SP leaders are not ruling this out.

Yadav's SP has 22 MPs and the party is working to increase the number. Yadav has repeatedly expressed his ambition to become prime minister.

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