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Congress weighs option of allying with Shivpal Yadav, smaller parties

The Congress has already announced an alliance with the little-known Mahan Dal. Peace Party leader Mohammad Ayub has met Congress general secretary (east UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

lok sabha elections Updated: Feb 26, 2019 12:37 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
congress ally,congress with Shivpal,shivpal yadav in congress
Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L) chief Shivpal Singh Yadav in a rally(HT File)

The Congress appears to be in a dilemma over an electoral tie-up with some smaller political outfits like Shivpal Singh Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia).

Nevertheless, it continues to explore options of taking lesser known parties on board to firm up an alliance of sorts for the Lok Sabha election.

The Congress has already announced an alliance with the little-known Mahan Dal. Peace Party leader Mohammad Ayub has met Congress general secretary (east UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Ayub is expected to meet senior party leaders in New Delhi again.

However, the Nishad Party, whose leaders also met Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday evening, has dragged its feet and reasserted the political outfit already has an understanding with the SP-BSP alliance.

“Nishad Party is part of the SP-BSP alliance,” said Nishad Party president Sanjay Nishad in a statement.

Apna Dal leaders, too, have met Congress leaders and they will announce the party’s political strategy after a meeting in Lucknow on February 28.

“Yes, a meeting between the Congress leadership and PSPL chief Shivpal Singh Yadav is long overdue. It is likely to take place after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) (meeting) in Gujarat on February 28. The Congress is looking for smaller allies and an understanding with the PSP is one of the options,” said a senior Congress leader.

“There is no confusion in the Congress about the party’s relations with the PSP as the party (the Congress) has to counter the BJP in the 2019 polls,” the Congress leader said.

Others in the Congress, however, point to the party’s relations with the Samajwadi Party in the 2017 assembly polls. They quote statements of Congress president Rahul Gandhi about the SP and the BSP leaders to make their point that there would be many twists and turns before the polls and nothing could be considered final at this stage.

“The Congress’s main objective is to bring all the parties together to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. This is why they are getting in touch even with smaller political outfits. They have not tied up with Shivpal Singh Yadav in order to remain soft towards the SP-BSP alliance. The Congress may, however, go in for a tie-up with Shivpal once all other options are closed,” said professor SK Dwivedi, former head of the department political science at Lucknow University.

After announcing the appointment of Priyanka and Jyotiraditya as general secretaries for east UP and west UP respectively last month, Rahul said at public meetings in Amethi: “I respect Mulayam Singh Yadavji, Mayawatiji and Akhilesh Yadavji. But the Congress too has to make a place for itself….. I have not sent Priyanka and Jyotiraditya for two months. I have given a mission to Priyanka and Jyotiraditya. Priyanka and Jyotiraditya will work. Priyanka and Jyotiraditya are very powerful leaders of the Congress. I trust they will work for the state. We want to change the state’s politics with these young leaders. In assembly elections, we will form a government in the state and in the Lok Sabha, we will fight with all our might. We will not take a step back.” Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has been targeting the Congress, though SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has refrained from making direct attacks on the party in recent weeks. Yadav has said the Congress is part of the SP-BSP alliance, referring to the decision not to field candidates in Rae Bareli and Amethi, the Lok Sabha seats of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi respectively.

Mahan Dal chief Keshav Dev Maurya confirmed he had arranged a meeting between Peace Party leader Dr Mohammad Ayub and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. “Peace Party leader Dr Mohamamd Ayub is expected to meet senior Congress leaders again and the final outcome will be known only thereafter,” he said.

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 12:37 IST

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