Priyanka bumps into Akhilesh Yadav on plane. They speak, say will meet again
NEW DELHI: Samajwadi Party (SP) chief and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav bumped into ex-ally Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on a Vistara flight to Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow on Friday, their first interaction after their two parties contested the 2017 UP assembly elections in a partnership and split up when they figured it didn’t work.
Friday’s afternoon’s brief interaction - someone also took a photo on their mobile phone, placing the two rivals in the same frame - on the afternoon flight to Lucknow was described as “cordial”, an aide to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said.
The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they told each other that “they should meet soon”.
It is not clear if the remark was just a courteous way to end the conversation. Or could their parties explore the possibility of a partnership in the not-so-distant future?
Elections to Uttar Pradesh’s 403-member assembly are less than five months away, and both parties are trying to dislodge chief minister Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government which came to power with 312 seats in 2017 riding a Modi superwave.
Ahead of the 2017 elections, the two parties came together in a campaign titled `UP ko ye saath pasand hai’ (UP likes the two together). The short-lived pact, however, fell apart after a dismal showing where the BJP left just 47 seats for the incumbent SP and just seven seats for the Congress.
SP leader Udaiveer Singh said an alliance with the Congress wasn’t possible.
“There is zero chance of any alliance between the two,’’ said SP leader Udaiveer Singh, adding, “As my leader has said that we are not going to ally with any national party but will only tie-up with smaller parties that can help us strategically take down the BJP government.’’
Priyanka Gandhi has also been seen publicly attacking Akhilesh Yadav. In an interview to HT this month, when asked about a possible alliance, she said.
“If you look at the last two years, when have you seen Mr Akhilesh Yadav come out on the street for any agitation? Did you see him during the NRC-CAA protests or during the Hathras incident? Did you see him on the street representing the farmers? You did not.’’
However, HT has learnt that the Congress did send some feelers to Akhilesh Yadav earlier in the year but he did not respond to the Congress’ overtures. He has maintained in the past that the 2017 alliance was a bad idea.