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Congress to contest all 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2019 Lok Saha polls

Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party was ready to take on board any secular force that was capable of challenging the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He said the Congress president will hold at least 13 election campaign rallies in the state.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Jan 14, 2019 00:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
The Congress on Sunday announced its decision to contest all 80 Uttar Pradesh seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections
The Congress on Sunday announced its decision to contest all 80 Uttar Pradesh seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections (AP File Photo)
         

The Congress on Sunday announced its decision to contest all 80 Uttar Pradesh seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and said it was willing to accommodate secular forces, a day after the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said they were tying up in the state without the Rahul Gandhi-led party in the fold.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati on Saturday declared an alliance for the general elections, in which each will contest 38 seats in Uttar Pradesh, leaving two for smaller allies, and staying away from the Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli.

Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party was ready to take on board any secular force that was capable of challenging the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He said the Congress president will hold at least 13 election campaign rallies in the state.

“We wanted the Congress to be a part of the grand alliance [against the BJP] in Uttar Pradesh. But if someone does not want to walk along, nothing can be done,” Azad told reporters after a meeting of Congress leaders to discuss the party’s strategy following the SP-BSP combine’s announcement.

“The Congress will contest on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh and defeat the BJP,” he said. “If any party is willing to accompany the Congress and the Congress feels that it can fight the BJP, then it will definitely be accommodated,” Azad added.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the SP won five seats, while the BSP failed to win any. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got 71 seats and its ally Apna Dal two seats out of the total 80.

Also read: ‘SP-BSP alliance will put up a strong fight in Lok Sabha polls,’ says BJP ally Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party

The Congress won Rae Bareli and Amethi — held by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. In the 2017 assembly polls, SP and BSP got 22% votes each while the BJP got 42.6% votes, winning 312 of the total 403 seats.

The SP and BSP chose not to include the Congress in their battle against the BJP, saying that there is no real gain in aligning with the party. “Congress party rule hasn’t benefitted anyone. There’s no real vote transfer from Congress and hence no real gain from aligning with Congress. We won’t ally with any party which will hurt our political ambitions,” Mayawati said.

A day after his joint news conference with Mayawati, Yadav said the alliance has unnerved the BJP so much that the party’s demoralised and desperate leaders and workers now want to join the SP and BSP.

Responding to questions over being left out of the SP-BSP alliance, Azad said: “The Congress workers are not at all disappointed on being left out of the alliance. On the contrary, they are saying the party would have had to contest on 25 seats, but now it would be contesting on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.”

Azad accused the BJP of dividing the country for power and said that the saffron party failed to fulfil its poll promises. “The coming Lok Sabha election is a battle to unite India and safeguard the democratic values,” he said.

Reacting to the Congress’s announcement, UP BJP spokesperson Chandramohan said: “The fear of the BJP and Modiji is making the opposition nervous. Be it Congress or the rest, they are really worried and we understand their desperation.”

Shortly after the Congress press conference in Lucknow, Shivpal Singh Yadav said his Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSPL) was ready to form an alliance with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. Shivpal Yadav has parted ways with the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP, forming his own political outfit.

“No alliance can defeat the BJP without support from the PSPL, the Bahujan Mukti Party and our other allies. We are ready to form an alliance with other secular parties to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections and oust it from power at the Centre,” Yadav told ANI.

SK Dwivedi, a former professor at Lucknow University, said: “SP, BSP and Congress should have come together for larger impact of alliance. As the SP-BSP alliance and Congress will contest the poll separately, the non-BJP votes will be divided and may not have the desired impact.”

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Jan 14, 2019 00:01 IST