Trying to set aside speculation about "discontentment" among some Congress leaders over his bonhomie with former BJP leader Kalyan Singh, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav today said the "new-found friendship" would neither harm the party's secular face nor is it going to cast any shadow on the SP-Congress alliance.
"I did not see any reason behind Congress disliking Kalyan Singh's association with SP as it is going to weaken communal and casteist forces like BJP and BSP in the state in the coming Lok Sabha polls.
"The association will also not have any impact on the SP's secular face and Congress should understand and welcome Kalyan's revolt against BJP," Yadav told PTI in an interview.
"If they (Congress) disapprove of our friendship, which I do not think, Soniaji should not share the dais with Kalyan...But she will not have any problem sharing the dais with me," Yadav said and expressed confidence that an SP-Congress alliance will materialise.
"In Uttar Pradesh, BJP and BSP have joined hands and are distributing Lok Sabha tickets after discussing with each other," Yadav claimed.
"After Kalyan's exit, there is no leader of mass following left in BJP, which believes in dividing the society by raising issues of mandir and masjid. And people, especially, the minority community are happy about this development," he said.
"Kalyan has not joined SP but if he wants he will contest the coming Lok Sabha elections as an Independent candidate from Etah. He will be campaigning for SP, whenever and wherever he is needed," Yadav said.
On the issue of seat sharing with the Congress, Yadav said both the parties should accept the ground reality before coming to any decision.
About the delay in announcing candidates, Yadav said SP had given its proposal to Congress on time but the party did not have the time to discuss it.
"Now Congress has sent its proposal, which we are discussing. SP and Congress leaders will sit and finalise things in the days to come," he said and refuted reports of differences between the two parties.
Yadav said the SP would also contest elections outside Uttar Pradesh and discussions were on to finalise candidates in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and other states.
He said SP will kick off its campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls after February 15.