TALKS BETWEEN the Congress and the Samajwadi Party for a pre-election alliance for Uttar Pradesh seems to have hit a dead end. Sources said there is no agreement on the seat-sharing formula and top Congress leaders on Saturday said the party is willing to contest the elections alone.
UP Congress chief Raj Babbar told The Sunday Express that “rumours” about an alliance are being spread by those who want to reduce the election to a Hindu-Muslim contest, indicating the BJP without naming the party. “Like they tried to polarise voters in 2014 (Lok Sabha polls)…their agenda is clear…somehow divert attention from issues such as demonetisation and raise the communal pitch,” Babbar said.
Sources, meanwhile, said the Congress is not ready to accept the SP’s offer of approximately 100 seats for the Congress, Ajit Singh’s RLD and some other smaller parties. The Congress is reportedly keen to fight on at least 90 seats.
While the Congress had maintained a studied silence on any alliance-related talks, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had as good as expressed willingness to clinch a deal with the party, arguing that the SP-Congress combine, if stitched, can win more than 300 seats in the 403-member House.
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad told party workers in Meerut that the party is prepared to fight the elections on its own “for now”. “There is no talk of an alliance with any party,” Azad was quoted by PTI as saying.
BJP’s Parivartan yatras conclude
The BJP on Saturday concluded its four Parivartan yatras in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh by invoking party patriarch and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and taking a pledge that it would follow the footsteps of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. Video recordings of Vajpayee’s speeches were played on the occasion. The ‘Parivartan’ yatras, which touched all the 403 Assembly segments of the state, covered over 17,162 km.