Amid reports of alliance talks between the Congress and Samajwadi Party, election strategist Prashant Kishor, who is helping the Congress campaign in Uttar Pradesh, met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at his official residence here on Monday.
While both sides officially denied that the meeting took place to discuss a grand alliance on the lines of the one that defeated the NDA in Bihar, UP Congress communication department’s chairman Satya Dev Tripathi said “we have come to know” that during today’s meeting Kishor gave the proposal for an alliance. But, he added, “so far as we know, Akhilesh Yadav has not shown any excitement on talks of a ‘mahagathbandhan’ and left it to his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, to decide.”
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Tripathi emphasised that Kishor had not been given the responsibility to talk about an alliance “on behalf of the party”. “He is a strategist, who thinks the Bihar formula can work here,” he said. But “considering the social equations here (in UP), the alliance would not be easy”, he added.
Pointing out the difficulty in putting together alliances in UP, Tripathi said, “There are many slips between the cup and the lip.”
In the evening, Kishor’s organisation I-PAC stated that the meeting was a “courtesy call”, and that the discussions were about the “general political scenario in Uttar Pradesh, and not about alliance between Samajwadi Party and INC”.
Senior SP leader Rajendra Chaudhary, a UP minister who is seen as close to Akhilesh, said no one in his party had any information about the issues discussed.
The senior Congress leadership, meanwhile, did not appear too comfortable with the meetings and the speculations they have engendered. They felt a lot of damage had been done by the impression created about the meetings, and made many workers sit back at a time the party is trying to boost its poll campaign.