It is well-known in political circles that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi share a good rapport and have often praised each other on different occasions.
The Congress may agree to play the second fiddle to the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh if Akhilesh is declared the face of the proposed grand alliance to take on both the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The alliance buzz has grown louder after Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor met SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday.
At last year’s Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Akhilesh offered a deal to the Congress, saying the SP was game for a tie-up if his father was made the prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with Rahul as his deputy.
Akhilesh also said that Rahul was a colleague and that he shared a good equation with him. The UP CM has maintained that the Congress V-P is a good human being.
“Rahulji bahut acche insan hain, bahut acche ladke hain. UP me zyada rahenge to hamari dosti unse hogi ... Do acche log mil jaye to kya kharab baat hai. (Rahul is a good human being, a good boy. If he spends more time in UP, we can become friends...If two good human beings meet, what’s wrong in that),” Akhilesh said in Lucknow on September 8.
Nearly a month later on October 10, the UP chief minister backed Rahul’s controversial “dalali” remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the September 29 surgical strikes carried out by the armed forces against terror launch pads across the Line of Control.
“If Rahul has said that, he must have said it after due thinking… He must have his reasons,” Akhilesh said.
For his part, Rahul too has reciprocated Akhilesh’s good words for him.
Kicking off his party’s campaign from Lucknow on July 29, the Congress V-P remarked: “Akhilesh theek ladka hai (he is a well-meaning boy)”.
Mulayam recently floated the idea of a grand alliance, similar to the Janata Parivar merger in Bihar, amid the raging feud with the Yadav family.
SP, which was initially part of Bihar’s grand alliance, had walked out of it after it was offered only a handful of seats to contest the assembly elections there. The grand alliance of Janata Dal(United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress, however, scripted an electoral victory, defeating the BJP.
To stay ahead in the elections, one of the SP’s main aim is to prevent splitting Muslim votes and to achieve this, it is looking for an alliance with secular parties.