- Congress should "take notes" from BJP on alliance, says Akhilesh Yadav
- BJP knows that to come to power, you have to respect others: Mr Yadav
- Congress left out of Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav-Ajit Singh alliance in UP
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has some advice for Congress in the run-up to the national elections - "take notes" from the BJP, which despite all ups and downs, has stuck to its allies. "They (the BJP) know that to come to power, you have to respect other parties. BJP is accepting alliances even at the cost of fewer seats... Despite all the pressures being exerted upon them, BJP still chooses them (allies)," the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister told NDTV's Prannoy Roy.
Left out of the Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav-Ajit Singh alliance, the Congress has focused its energies on contesting all 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, the state that is considered the gateway to Delhi. Party chief Rahul Gandhi has deployed sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and close aide Jyotiraditya Scindia in the state.
While leaders of both the Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party have insisted that Congress's entry into the fray would not affect them, key opposition leaders like N Chandrababu Naidu and Sharad Pawar have expressed concern about a possible split in anti-BJP votes.
In view of the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama and the BJP's muscular nationalism, Rahul Gandhi has now been asked to mend fences with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and form state-level alliances with them.
But so far, the Congress has little to show. In Bengal, the party has struck an alliance with Mamata Banerjee's bitter rivals, the Left Front, which would keep her out of the alliance.
In Delhi, the Congress state unit has unanimously voted against an alliance with AAP - a situation the party is now trying to rectify by seeking feedback from its workers.
"The Congress is a big party. It must try to help the other political parties. For instance, they must try to help Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. In Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal can fight and they must support them," he told NDTV.
When it comes to keeping alliances intact, the BJP has set an example. "Bihar is the best example. See how many seats the BJP won," he said.
In Bihar, after weeks of tussle, the BJP chose to accept Nitish Kumar's demand for equal status and went for a 50:50 division, even when his Janata Dal (United) had won just two of the state's 40 seats in the 2014 national elections. The BJP had won 22 seats.
The BJP has also managed to keep on board fractious allies like the Shiv Sena and even smaller allies like Apna Dal, which wanted a bigger share of seats.
The BJP, Mr Yadav said, "is a big party".
"They know how to manage. They know which leader to pick and when. How big a name he is and if there are caste dimensions, they pick leaders of that particular caste. Forget what his merits and demerits are," he added.