Akhilesh ‘facing heat’ to take Congress on board in U.P. - Hindustan Times
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Akhilesh ‘facing heat’ to take Congress on board in U.P.

By, Lucknow
Jun 22, 2023 10:24 PM IST

Not just the Congress and the RLD, but even senior party leaders within the SP ranks want Yadav to also “show a big heart” to the Congress in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, and chief ministers of non-BJP ruled states are among those expected to attend the joint opposition meeting in Patna today.

Ahead of the joint opposition meeting in Patna, Samajwadi Party (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav, who has earlier stated that he expected the Congress to show a ‘big heart’ and support his party to defeat the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, is reportedly facing ‘internal’ and ‘external’ pressure to take the grand old party on board—which the SP is known to have been hostile towards.

Akhilesh Yadav had been constantly advocating for a non-BJP and non-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh after his party’s alliance with the Congress ended in 2017. (File)
Akhilesh Yadav had been constantly advocating for a non-BJP and non-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh after his party’s alliance with the Congress ended in 2017. (File)

Yadav’s statement of parties wanting to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) must support the SP with a ‘big heart’ in U.P., has not amused the Congress.

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“Akhilesh Yadav ji first needs to be clear on what he wants—if he wants to defeat the BJP or not? If he does want that, then he must understand that while he is fighting the BJP only in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is struggling against the saffron party nationwide and the party is also seeing positive results—the recent Karnataka elections being a case in point,” said Ashok Singh, the U.P. Congress’ spokesperson.

Singh added: “If both the SP and the Congress fight unitedly, the BJP will be defeated or else the ruling party will benefit.”

Like the Congress, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) also had sent some feelers in the political circles that its chief Jayant Chaudhary’s idea of a united coalition included the Congress even as Yadav had been constantly advocating for a non-BJP and non-Congress alliance in the state.

The speculation about Chaudhary’s proposition gained further currency when Yadav skipped the swearing-in of Siddaramaiah in Karnataka, which Chaudhary had attended.

A few days later, Chaudhary, when quizzed about his stance on Congress, told newsmen in Bijnor: “Our alliance with the SP will continue. Simultaneously, opposition parties will think about an alliance with the Congress.”

The RLD has been a constant companion of the SP ever since the 2017 U.P. assembly elections. Till then, the SP had an alliance with the Congress, which collapsed after the SP’s defeat to the BJP that year.

In 2019, Akhilesh Yadav ‘vowed’ to never ally with a big party because of its experiences with the Congress in 2017 and fought the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Not just the Congress and the RLD, but even senior party leaders within the SP ranks want Yadav to also “show a big heart” to the Congress in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Sources in the SP said Yadav, who’s been conveyed various opinions about the potential alliance strategies by these leaders, would be taking take the final call. “These senior SP leaders are of the opinion that if Akhilesh keeps the Congress out, then the latter will eventually be forced to contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats either on its own or with some other ally. This will ultimately benefit the BJP. If the Congress is weak in U.P, as Akhilesh ji says, then the SP, too, is not strong if the Lok Sabha elections are considered. It could win only five seats in both the 2014 and 2019 LS polls,” a senior SP leader said.

Anurag Bhadauria, the SP national spokesperson, said the SP could defeat the BJP in U.P. and added: “In U.P, our struggles are public issues, from the streets to the legislature. And we will defeat the BJP in U.P... but let me clarify that the entire opposition is united against the BJP. After the June 23 meeting, a clear picture may arise. In politics nothing is final. Things change.”

However, political analyst and former head of the department of political science at the University of Lucknow SK Dwivedi said: “The opposition might be meeting in Patna now, but till now it has not shown any strong sign of unity. Rather, the opposition parties are showing discord both nationally and in U.P. Here, the SP, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are not on the same page. Such discord will ultimately benefit the BJP”.

As things stand now, the SP says that it will contest all 80 U.P. LS seats with its smaller alliance partners. The Congress and the BSP also say they will contest all the seats on their own. Such a scenario may benefit the BJP.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi chief minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal, Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, former chief minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti are among those expected to attend the first high-level opposition meeting.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Pankaj Jaiswal is Chief of Bureau, Uttar Pradesh and covers politics. His continued interest in rural, distress, and development journalism, fetched him a handful of prestigious awards and fellowships. Pankaj is a photo-journalist too and tweets at @augustus29lotus

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