The Congress has found its first partner to fight the general elections in Uttar Pradesh with the grand old party announcing on Wednesday an alliance with the little-known Mahan Dal which claims support among some backward classes in few pockets in central and western UP.Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress general secretary for eastern U.P. and Jyotiraditya Scindia, general secretary for western U.P. welcomed Mahan Dal chief Keshav Dev Maurya at the UPCC headquarters after making the announcement.Priyanka asserted this was an attempt to realise the goal that Congress president Rahul Gandhi had set for them.“I welcome Mauryaji. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has given us a target of working for politics that gives representation to all classes and communities of the society. This is an attempt towards realising this goal. We want to strengthen this further to ensure fighting 2019 Lok Sabha elections with all our might and we will fight the poll with full force now,” Priyanka said.“Mahan Dal will work with us for formation of a government at Centre that will work for the people,” said Scindia.Maurya said his party will work with the Congress in the polls and hold a rally with Scindia in Moradabad on February 24.Rahul Gandhi had said Priyanka and Jyotiraditya Scindia have been sent on mission to the state to improve party’s performance in Lok Sabha polls and form the next government in 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.The Congress had aligned with the Mahan Dal in 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections too. After the SP-BSP alliance left the Congress out in the cold, the grand old party said it would contest all 80 seats, but did not rule out alliance with smaller parties.On Tuesday, Akhilesh had said the Congress is part of the opposition alliance that his party has stitched in Uttar Pradesh against the BJP-led coalition for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. He said two seats were given to the Congress in the alliance.The Congress’s move has not come as a surprise to political observers, who feel the party may take more such steps to give a strong fight to the BJP.SK Dwivedi, former head of the department (political science), Lucknow University, said, “The Congress’s main objective is to defeat the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Besides bringing smaller parties together, the Congress is also going soft on the SP-BSP alliance. Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s statement that he respects SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati reflects this. The party may explore the option of having an understanding with SP and BSP too.”Besides announcing the alliance, Priyanka and Scindia continued to hold closed door interactions with the partymen for the second day. Both the leaders are expected to conclude their interactions on Thursday. They may begin tours to Lok Sabha constituencies on February 18.Priyanka has been in Lucknow since Monday to prepare the party in eastern Uttar Pradesh for the coming Lok Sabha elections after launching a massive roadshow for ‘Mission UP’ in her first visit to the state since her appointment as Congress general secretary last month. Uttar Pradesh which sends 80 lawmakers of the Lok Sabha is the bellwether state for any party which seeks to form a government at the Centre. The Congress won only two Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014The Congress faces an uphill task given an almost total absence of organisational base in the state. The party had been trying to explore the possibilities of allying with some smaller caste-based outfits. Last month, former SP leader Shivpal Singh Yadav, who has formed Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP) after leaving his parent party following differences with Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, appointed a key party member to talk to the Congress and other secular parties for an alliance ahead of the general electionsEarlier Wednesday, Priyanka said she was interacting with the party workers to elicit their views on restructuring the organisation and changes needed to be made to win 2029 Lok Sabha elections.“I am learning a lot about how to restructure the organisation and the changes needed to be made in the road ahead. I’m getting their views on how to fight these elections and win them,” she said while replying to questions after holding marathon round of meetings that lasted nearly 16 hours from 1PM on Tuesday to about 5.30 AM on Wednesday.Priyanka, who has been given charge of 41 Lok Sabha seats of east UP is interacting with party workers about the details of booths, votes polled, political situation and equations in their constituencies.About her husband Robert Vadra being questioned by teh Enforcement Directorate, Priyanka said such things would keep on happening. “I will keep doing my work. These things will keep on happening. I will keep doing my things,” she said.