Party leaders said Akhilesh reshaped SP's thinking by going beyond caste mobilisation and sought to connect its campaign to the aspirations of the youth in the country's most populous state, which lags behind in human development parameters.
Akhilesh also attempted to wash off the taint of his party's association with criminal elements during its rule in the state. He vetoed induction of don-turned-politician D.P. Yadav.
Akhilesh had jumped into the poll fray in 2000 during a by-poll and won the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat, previously held by his father. Since then, he has won all the Lok Sabha elections from that constituency. He had also won the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat in 2009, but vacated it to retain Kannauj.
His wife, Dimple Yadav, contested the Firozabad by-poll later, but failed to win it.
Born in Saifai in Uttar Pradesh's Etawah district, Akhilesh is a self-confessed nature lover. As a member of parliament, he has been a member of several committees, including those on forests and environment, science and technology and urban development.
Image: A Samajwadi Party supporter holds a cutout of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and walks past other cutouts of Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.