Rahul takes lead in Cong-SP talks
On the initiative of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the contours of a broad alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress is being worked out. Special attention is being given to containing the growing influence of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.
SP general secretary Amar Singh told HT, “We are talking to Gandhi and Divijay Singh (AICC general secretary in charge of UP) and there is optimism about the possibility of a secular alliance being firmed up.”
Indications of Rahul’s active interest in shaping UP’s emerging political formation was seen on Thursday when he held a closed-door meeting attended by UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi and two SP rebels close to the Congress — former Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma and filmstar-turned-politician Raj Babbar. Digvijay Singh was also present at the meeting. Digvijay subsequently met Verma at his Kushak Road residence to discuss the specifics of the emerging alliance.
Earlier in the day, Babbar also called on UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence. Associated with former Prime Minister VP Singh’s Jan Morcha, the former filmstar had met Rahul Gandhi in March last year to propose an alliance with the Congress — ahead of the assembly elections.
Joint campaigns by the SP and Congress and “friendly fights” in about a dozen Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh are some strategies being worked on by leaders of the two parties.
Rahul Gandhi’s approach is two-pronged: strengthening the party organisation in the state, and working out a common ground with new-found friends in the SP.
Rahul’s current approach reflects a change from his earlier position of “going it alone”.