Congress workers were absent from the first election rally of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in western UP. Akhilesh held a rally in Masuri area of Ghaziabad on Wednesday.
Flags of the Congress were put up along with flags of the Samajwadi Party (SP). However, those on the dais were mostly SP leaders, including SP’s city and district presidents from Ghaziabad, and other local leaders from Hapur district.
“An invitation was given to Congress district president from Hapur and the rally was held to support the Dhaulana candidate from SP. I was busy with the election campaign of the Ghaziabad candidate, so I did not go. There are more rallies of Akhilesh to be held in Ghaziabad and I will join him then,” Harendra Kasana, Ghaziabad district president, Congress, said.
Syed Ayazuddin, the Congress district president from Hapur, said that a total of 22 invitations were given to local Congress leaders for Akhilesh’s rally.
“Even I was provided with a special pass for being there on the dais. I was the only one who was given this pass. But I had declined as I had other programmes scheduled for the election campaign. I had sent a Congress leader in my stead. My attending the rally would have taken up the whole day,” he said.
“We did not go to the rally. We were not called. The district president must have attended, though,” Vijay Goel, a former Ghaziabad district president of the Congress, said.
Following the alliance between SP and the Congress, both Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh had held a joint press conference and later took out a major road show in Lucknow.
The rally venue at Masuri also had a large banner behind the dais with photographs of Akhilesh, Rahul and Mohammed Azam Khan. However, Mulayam’s picture was missing.
Akhilesh lauded the Congress at the rally. “We have taken the help of Congress to bring change in Uttar Pradesh. More so, because I and the Congress leader (Rahul Gandhi) are young and have a long political career ahead. Till we finish the BJP and its allies in UP, we will not sit comfortably,” Akhilesh said.
In a rally at Ghaziabad’s Shalimar Garden, BJP campaigner Yogi Adityanath had questioned the need for SP-Congress alliance when the SP was already in power and had won the majority in 2012 assembly elections. He even cautioned the SP that once the Congress recovers in UP, it may throw the SP out, ‘like a fly from milk’.
Political experts are of the view that both the SP and Congress have been contesting against each other in previous elections and will take some time for both parties to work together.
In the last elections, the SP had fielded five candidates from all five seats in Ghaziabad district while the Congress had fielded three. The local leaders and the party workers of both parties had campaigned hard but neither party could secure a seat. Four seats in the district went to Bahujan Samaj Party and one to Rashtriya Lok Dal.