Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday kept the doors open for an alliance with the Congress for next year’s assembly polls, saying the two parties together can win more than 300 seats. He, however, asserted the SP was capable of winning the polls on its own.
The comments by the chief minister, at the 14th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, comes in the backdrop of a bruising feud in the state’s ruling family, with Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal locked in a bitter turf war over the past few months.
The 43-year-old chief minister also took a dig at “uncle” Amar Singh, saying if he was the party chief he would recommend removal the controversial leader from SP. Singh recently returned to the party despite Akhilesh’s objections and is widely believed to be the “outsider” the chief minister often referred to as the man who precipitated the family crisis.
- He said SP would get a majority in the state assembly on its own in upcoming UP polls
- On alliance with Congress, he said the two parties together can win more than 300 seats
- Akhilesh said there had to be “give and take” in any alliance, but added he did not visualise the Congress as a junior partner
- He denied any impact on his functioning as chief minister because of alleged interference from “chacha” (Shivpal) and “uncle” (Amar Singh).
It was, however, his comments on a possible alliance with the Congress that would hold more significance for the country’s most populous and politically crucial state.
“PK (Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor) met Netaji (SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav) and had a meeting with me as well. What I told him was that the SP would get a majority in the state assembly on its own, but would win more than 300 of the 404 assembly seats if the Congress came on board,” Akhilesh said.
At the same time, the UP chief minister added cryptically: “Who brought PK to Netaji? This is of interest to me”.
Responding to a question from the audience, Akhilesh said there had to be “give and take” in any alliance, but added he did not visualise the Congress as a junior partner.
The Congress has so far not committed itself to any alliance in the state with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi launching a statewide campaign through a farmer connect programme.
SP patriarch Mulayam Singh have also been trying revive the erstwhile political configuration, the Janata Parivar, floated last year to check the BJP after it swept the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The alliance collapsed ahead of the Bihar assembly polls in 2015 when Mulayam walked out citing differences over seat sharing.
Recalling his earlier “Mulayam as PM and Rahul Gandhi as Deputy PM” comment, the chief minister said his offer was still valid and that it was for the Congress leadership to take a call.
“Rahulji is not in the audience today, but the message can be passed on to him by people close to him,” Yadav said. Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra were present in the audience.
He denied any impact on his functioning as chief minister because of alleged interference from “chacha” (Shivpal) and “uncle” (Amar Singh).
“Had this been so, I would not have been able to complete developmental works such as building the expressway; launching trials of the Lucknow metro within 26 months; distributing of laptops etc,” the chief minister said.
Akhilesh, however, had another go at both Amar Singh and Shivpal without naming anybody.
“I will listen to Netaji and accept whatever he says. But if a typewriter comes from somewhere to remove me, I will not accept it,” said Yadav. The typewriter analogy was apparently made as a reference to Amar Singh, a Rajya Sabha member known for his networking skills.
Akhilesh took a dig at Shivpal saying, ‘Political wisdom dictates if someone wants to remove you (from the party), you remove him”.
On the poll battle ahead, he said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) were only fighting for the second and third spots and added there was no chance of former chief minister Mayawati making a comeback.
“Memorials of her corruption are still standing all over in Uttar Pradesh,” he said, referring to the giant elephant statues, the BSP poll symbol, installed across the state when Mayawati she was in power.