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PUTTING AN end to days of speculation, amid a power tussle within the SP, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the Congress confirmed that they would forge a pre-poll alliance for the assembly elections next month.
A day after the Chief Minister’s faction won the battle for the SP’s top post and the cycle symbol, Akhilesh and Ghulam Nabi Azad, the AICC general secretary in charge of UP, said in separate announcements Tuesday that the alliance would be announced in the next 24-48 hours.
Sources said efforts were also on to bring Ajit Singh’s RLD, a faction of Apna Dal, JD(U), NCP and even the Trinamool Congress on board to build a Bihar-style grand alliance against the BJP.
In Lucknow, Akhilesh admitted that the SP’s campaign had been “much delayed” and that his first priority was to release the list of candidates and draft strategy.
Asked when he would share an election stage with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh said, “Abhi intezar kariye (Please wait for now).” He said that his uncle Ram Gopal Yadav, who reached Lucknow, was working on the alliance.
In Delhi, Azad expressed confidence that “the SP-Congress alliance will form the next government”.
Asked about the RLD joining the alliance, he said, “Right now, two parties are talking. Everything will start now. The nitty-gritty of who will contest from where and the number of seats are yet to be worked out.”
Sources said Azad and Ram Gopal were working to resolve differences over a few seats. At the same time, Congress’s chief ministerial face Sheila Dikshit reiterated that she would step aside as CM candidate to facilitate the alliance.
Meanwhile, amid speculation that the Congress would contest in 89 seats, a meeting of the party’s screening committee scheduled in the capital for Tuesday evening to shortlist candidates was postponed.
“We are still working things out. There will be some give and take. A final shape, on how many and what seats we would get, will emerge by Wednesday,” said a senior Congress leader.
Akhilesh had released a list of 235 candidates last month in response to his father Mulayam Singh Yadav releasing a separate list of 393 candidates, triggering the latest crisis within the SP. “Now, a fresh list of candidates for all 403 seats is expected from the CM. A majority of sitting MLAs could get tickets,” said an SP leader.
Asked about the dispute with his father, Akhilesh said that around 90 per cent names in both SP lists were common. “(A son’s) relations can never end with his father,” he said.
The Akhilesh faction, meanwhile, filed a caveat in Supreme Court to ensure that no orders are passed against the Election Commission’s decision on the ‘Cycle’ symbol without hearing them.