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Akhilesh Yadav’s ‘Thank You’ hints at a grand alliance minus Congress

In the recent assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress won 114 seats while the BSP won two. Yadav had earlier said that the SP supported the Congress in MP only to keep the BJP out.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2018 00:44 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal
Pankaj Jaiswal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Akhilesh Yadav,Samajwadi Party,Congress
Bengaluru, India - May 23, 2018: Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav along with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati during the swearing-in ceremony of Kumarswamy as the 24th chief minister of Karnataka at the grand steps of Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru, India, on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (Photo by Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times)(Arijit Sen/HT Photo)

Samajwadi Party (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday dropped broad hints that the Congress may be kept out of an Opposition alliance in Uttar Pradesh in next year’s general elections, even as he referred to a potential meeting in January with Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has embarked on a nation-wide sojourn to gather allies for a non-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Federal Front.

Yadav spoke about the Congress in the context of the SP’s lone legislator in Madhya Pradesh being denied a ministerial berth in the government of chief minister Kamal Nath that was sworn in this month after winning state assembly elections. Yadav noted that the SP extended unconditional support to the Congress in the state, and hinted that by not accommodating the SP MLA, the Congress has made it easier for the SP to decide who to partner with in Uttar Pradesh. Sending 80 members to the Lok Sabha, Uttar Pradesh is the most crucial state in the parliamentary elections.

“All the better. We thank the Congress for not making our MLA a minister in Madhya Pradesh,” Yadav said. “This has cleared our path for the alliance in Uttar Pradesh. In time to come, the options are open as to who all will be included in the alliance.”

The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister was talking to journalists on the side-lines of a special executive meeting of the party’s Lucknow Mahanagar unit.

Yadav allied with the Congress in the 2017 assembly polls in the state that were swept by the BJP, but since early this year he has been non-committal about partnering with it in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Both he and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati now talk of an SP-BSP alliance although no formal announcement of an electoral tie-up has been made yet.

Indicating that an SP-BSP alliance will emerge, Yadav on Wednesday said: “When we allied for bypolls in UP, remember what all BJP had said about our alliance. I had thanked them many times before and thank them again now. They had called us even backwards.”

In the recent assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress won 114 seats while the BSP won two. Yadav had earlier said that the SP supported the Congress in MP only to keep the BJP out.

“Congress or no Congress, if the SP and the BSP stay together, they don’t need any other across-the-state ally. We can have different sub-partners in different regions, like we had in the form of Peace Party and NISHAD in Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls in eastern UP or RLD [Rashriya Lok Dal] in Kairana and Noorpur by-elections in western UP,” a close aide to Yadav said on condition of anonymity.

The Congress was guarded in its reaction to Yadav’s comment. “The people of Uttar Pradesh have this time decided to rise above caste and communal lines and vote for a progressive and secular party. Congress is a national and inclusive party that takes along all the sections of the society. We are confident that our performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be outstanding,” said Prakash Joshi, All India Congress Committee secretary in-charge of UP.

SK Dwivedi, a political analyst and the former head of Lucknow University’s political science department, said: “The SP-BSP arithmetic of Muslims plus Dalits plus backwards is formidable. If they stay together, then they really won’t need any other big partner.”

On the coming together of parties across the nation for the 2019 general elections, Yadav said on Wednesday: “I will go to Hyderabad to meet the Telangana chief minister in January. I congratulate Telangana CM for making efforts to bring together a Federal Front.”

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief and Telangana chief minister Chandrashekar Raohas held talks with his Odisha counterpart, Naveen Patnaik, and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to push his Federal Front initiative.

First Published: Dec 26, 2018 23:22 IST