This Article is From Mar 06, 2019

"Congress Part Of UP Alliance, Has 2 seats": Akhilesh Yadav Takes A Dig

Akhilesh Yadav and his alliance partner Mayawati are hostile to the idea of allowing the Congress into the mix in Uttar Pradesh

'Congress Part Of UP Alliance, Has 2 seats':  Akhilesh Yadav Takes A Dig

Congress had Amethi and Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav said.

New Delhi:

The Congress, which has categorically refused  an alliance with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Pary in Delhi, found itself at the receiving end in Uttar Pradesh. Asked about the possibility of the party's inclusion in the Uttar Pradesh alliance amid a rethink of the opposition strategy after the Pulwama attacks, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav was derisive.

Unlike in Delhi, the Congress was eager to push for an alliance in Uttar Pradesh, sources had said. The party's top leadership, which was initially eyeing 20 seats, has now come round to the view that 12 would be a respectable number.

But today, Mr Yadav, who has formed an alliance with Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, said, "I have said they the Congress is with the gathbandhan in UP. I have repeatedly said that the Congress has two seats in UP and they will fight on those two seats".

The two seats are Amethi and Rae Bareli -- the constituencies of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi -- which the alliance is not contesting as a gesture of courtesy.

Mr Yadav's remarks are seen as an end to the opposition's hopes of building a stronger and more effective front against the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections. The need was felt after the Pulwama terror attacks and the subsequent air strikes against a Jaish-e Mohammad terror camp in Pakistan's Balakot.

Buoyed by a surge of nationalism since the air strikes, the BJP has also recalibrated its strategy, building a fresh campaign around national security.

The opposition is focusing on unity and is keen on reinforcing its patchwork front by eliminating a split in votes. There has been fresh emphasis on 1:1 contests, especially in Bengal. Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress is going it alone would be pitted against the regional parties.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in charge of making the 1:1 contests happen and sources said she had been trying to initiate a dialogue with Mr Yadav over the last few days.

Mr Yadav's alliance partner Mayawati is seen as more hostile to the idea of allowing the Congress into the mix in Uttar Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi's move to launch sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into active politics and induct rebels from Mayawati's party has further increased the alienation.

Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that his party would contest all seats in the state. Leaders in the alliance have said the Congress is no competition to them, since their support bases are different.