On a day Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held her first roadshow in Lucknow after being made the party general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav said his party was not only in an alliance with the BSP, but also with the Congress, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Nishad Party and the Peace Party.
“Kyunki yeh gathbandhan BSP se toh hai, wahin aapko jankari hogi ki Congress party bhi isme shaamil hai, RLD ko bhi teen seatein di gayi hain, woh bhi shamil hain, aur Nishaad party ko bhi kyunki pehle hum chunaav unke saath lade hain, Peace Party ne bhi sahyog kiya tha. Aane waale samay mein kuch Lok Sabha mein humare saath rahenge, kuch Vidhan Sabha mein bhi humare saath rahenge (This coalition is not only with the BSP, but the Congress is also part of this alliance. RLD has been given three seats, they are also part of it. The Nishad Party is also a part of the alliance. We have contested together in the past. The Peace party has also helped us. In the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, some will be with us and some will be with us in Vidhan Sabha polls too),” Akhilesh told reporters in Firozabad on Monday.
BSP chief Mayawati, who has been critical of the Congress, had ruled out any alliance with it. Akhilesh, however, has been avoiding any direct comment against the Congress. When they announced their alliance in Lucknow in January, Akhilesh and Mayawati said that there was no alliance with Congress for Lok Sabha elections, but clarified that they would not field candidates from two seats of Amethi and Rae Bareli.
At a joint press conference with Akhilesh in Lucknow on January 12, Mayawati said, “There is no real gain from aligning with the Congress. Whether it is the Congress or the BJP, it is the same thing. The defence scams have hit both of them. All the sections are unhappy with the parties.”
Akhilesh also broke his silence on seat sharing with RLD and confirmed to share three seats with the party. Reacting to this, senior RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary said, “Until there is an official statement, I will not comment. I don’t know what the occasion was and what was the context (in which the statement was made). We will decide how to collectively decide over making the announcement. We have already started work on our campaign.”
Asked if his party will agree on contesting three seats, he said, “When there are talks, there will be a solution. Then, we will make the announcement. Just wait for that.”
Questioned on whether his party will support the SP’s decision to bring Congress in the coalition, Jayant said that his opinion does not matter and it was for the SP and BSP to decide whether they will make Congress a part of the alliance.
President of the Peace Party, Mohd Ayub, said if Akhilesh brings in Congress, he would welcome the move. ‘’The decision to make Congress part of the coalition is most welcome,” he said. Asked if he has been informed about the number of seats his party will contest, he said that it will be announced at a press conference.
Speaking on the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh on Monday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi told party workers, “Yahan Gadhbandhan bhi lar raha hai, maine saaf bola ki main Mayawati ji aur Akhilesh ji ka adar karta hoon. (Here alliance is also fighting, I have said that I respect Akhilesh and Mayawati ji).’’
He further said, “Magar Congress Party poore dum se kaeegi, Congress party apni vichar dhara ke liye kaeegi, aur Congress Party Uttar Pradesh badalne ke liye kaeegi. (But Congress is going to contest with its full strength, Congress would fight for its ideology and Congress would contest to change Uttar Pradesh).’’