Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday launched the Vikas Rath Yatra ahead of state elections next year and said the Assembly polls will change the politics of the country. "On one hand soldiers are dying while protecting the borders and on the other hand another soldier is committing suicide. We must think in whose hands the country is. This election is to change the politics of the country," he told supporters who had gathered to see him launch the Samajwadi Party’s state-wide tour.

The incumbent chief minister said that the party's younger members will carry forward its ideology and added that it was time to bring back the party to power. Yadav, however, admitted that the party had had a few weak moments, but blamed them on conspiracies. "There were conspiracies and we got a little hassled. But I know that the youngsters will take forward the party ideology."

The launch of the Vikas Rath Yatra brought together party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, his brother Shivpal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav on the same dais – a show of unity that has been missing from the party over the past few months. Shivpal Yadav, who has had his differences with his nephew, endorsed Akhilesh publicly. “I would want to wish Akhilesh all the best. Hope he brings back the SP government in Uttar Pradesh.” He also made it clear who was the main rival of the party. “Our aim is to stop the BJP from forming the government in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

Some of the party's supporters clashed minutes before the programme started, reported ANI. However, no one was injured. On the first day of his tour, Akhilesh Yadav is scheduled to travel 75 km across Lucknow and Unnao. There are plans for him to stop every 2 km to interact with locals. The 403-seat Uttar Pradesh Assembly will go to polls early next year.