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Uttar Pradesh partners Mayawati and Akhilesh snub Congress over its 7-seat offer, say don’t create confusion

The Congress is free to field candidates in all 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, Mayawati said on Twitter, exuding confidence that the coalition of the BSP, SP and the RLD would be able to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014, in the coming Lok Sabha polls

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 18, 2019 22:47 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Mayawati,Bahujan Samaj Party,Samajwadi Party
Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati has said that the SP-BSP combine was strong enough to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh and that they did not need the support of the Congress.(PTI file photo)

A day after the Congress said it would not field candidates in seven seats that were likely to be allotted to top leaders of Uttar Pradesh’s Opposition alliance from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP), and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the first’s chief Mayawati accused the party of creating confusion and repeated that her party has no alliance with it anywhere in the country.

The Congress is free to field candidates in all 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, Mayawati said on Twitter, exuding confidence that the coalition of the BSP, SP and the RLD would be able to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014, in the coming Lok Sabha polls

Read: For full coverage of Lok Sabha elections 2019

Retweeting a post by Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav too snubbed the Congress by echoing similar sentiments. “In Uttar Pradesh, the alliance of the SP, BSP and the RLD is capable of defeating the BJP. The Congress party should not create any kind of confusion,” he added.

Watch: Congress leaves 7 seats for SP, BSP and RLD in UP for Lok Sabha polls

The Congress’s move was a response to the BSP-SP-RLD alliance’s decision to not contest the Amethi and Rae Bareilly constituencies, represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

After Mayawati’s tweets on Monday, the Congress said it left seven seats for the coalition as a show of “political courtesy”. “We have done this in past too. Now, there is no reason for Mayawatiji to be upset about our goodwill gesture. She is, however, free to decide her strategy,” Congress spokesperson Hilal Naqvi said.

In politically crucial UP, the BSP will contest 38 seats, SP 37 seats and the RLD three seats, leaving out the two Congress pocket boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli. The Congress, left out of the UP alliance, said on Sunday it was thankful to the coalition for not fielding candidates in these two seats, and would leave seven seats from where top leaders of the alliance are likely to contest.

The exchange left the BJP amused.

“Can there be a bigger embarrassment for the country’s grand old party? The BSP’s snub to the Congress... is a reminder of its dwindling credibility,” UP BJP spokesperson Hero Bajpai said.

Earlier this month, Akhilesh, in what appeared to be a conciliatory message, said the Congress was part of the coalition. But about a week ago, Mayawati said the BSP won’t ally with the Congress anywhere in the country, dashing hopes of forging a united Opposition front against the BJP.

A BSP leader said on condition of anonymity that Mayawati was working on a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance across the country by joining hands with local parties.

Last week, Mayawati announced an alliance with the Jana Sena Party (JSP) of actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. On Saturday, Danish Ali, a leader of Congress ally Janata Dal (Secular), joined the BSP in Lucknow. In Haryana, the BSP will ally with the Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) launched by rebel BJP leader Rajkumar Saini.

First Published: Mar 18, 2019 11:45 IST