The talk of a Bihar-style grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh gained momentum on Thursday following a meeting between Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad and Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav.
Sharad Yadav had also called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence on Tuesday and later met Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Shivpal Yadav.
Both sides dismissed the suggestion that the meetings were held to discuss the contours of the possible grand alliance of “secular” parties in poll-bound UP. Both sides maintained that Sharad Yadav met Gandhi to inquire about her health and discussed with Azad the strategy for the upcoming winter session of Parliament.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said his party has an alliance with the JD(U) in Bihar and to interpret the meetings in any other way will be wrong.
However, sources said the alliance issue also came up for discussion especially in the wake of Shivpal Yadav’s statement that SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had authorised him to explore the possibility of a ‘mahagathbandhan’ on the lines of Bihar to collectively take on the “communal forces” in next year’s UP elections.
The SP chief had last year walked out of a similar rainbow coalition of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), JD(U) and the Congress for Bihar elections, but the bitter ongoing family feud has left his party weakened and prompted a rethink in his poll strategy.
While the JD(U) had already floated the idea of a “fifth vertical” with the Congress and the RLD of Ajit Singh as its part, these parties are clearly wary of Mulayam’s wavering moves and treading cautiously on the alliance path.
Officially, the Congress virtually ruled out any grand alliance in UP insisting that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi wanted to set things right in the state which is in bad shape for past 27 years.
“Our stand is more than clear…We have been saying ‘27 saal, UP behal’. Rahul Gandhi’s yatra is not founded on lust for power but to bring new paradigm of politics in the state,” Surjewala said.