Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav might be on the sidelines in the party, but his personal prestige is at stake in Lucknow Cant and Jaswantnagar seats, being contested by his 'choti bahu' Aparna and brother Shivpal respectively.
The 77-year-old wrester-turned-politician, who has grappled with many a political crisis, has been conspicuously missing from the UP poll cauldron in the first two phases.
For the third phase polls on February 19, he has preferred to campaign only for his family members so far. The reluctant campaigner, in the changed equations in the party after his son Akhilesh Yadav took over, expressed in his three election meetings so far as to how important it is for him that the party wins these seats.
"These elections are most important for me and Shivpal ... ensure his victory from here," the Yadav senior, who addressed two rallies for his brother, the sitting MLA from Jaswantnagar in party's stronghold of Etawah, had appealed.
Starting his campaign for the UP polls, Mulayam had steered clear of any mention of SP-Congress alliance in his 30-minute speech in Takha block of Jaswantnagar.
Similarly in his meeting to seek votes for his younger daughter-in-law in Lucknow Cantt yesterday, he made an emotional appeal saying these elections are attached to his political respect and honour. He would be grateful to the people if they supported Aprana, he said.
"We appeal to you to make Aparna win with a massive majority...our respect is attached to it. She is my daughter-in-law... Keep my honour and ensure her victory from the seat," he said.
Going all out to woo the minorities in the seat which has traditionally been a Congress stronghold, Yadav recalled how he managed the Ayodhya development when he was the CM and initiated strict steps to control the situation in 1990s. "It was for the sake of unity and integrity of the county that I had sacrificed my government," he had said.