- Congress, left out of opposition coalition, contesting in UP alone
- Says will leave seven seats which top faces of the coalition will contest
- UP votes in six phases starting April 11; results on May 23
In a reciprocal gesture of courtesy, the Congress has said it would not contest seven Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh currently held or being contested by the key leaders of the Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav combine. The alliance has left aside the two seats in the state, Amethi held by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Raebareli - the constituency of his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Overall, these nine seats are not expected to witness three-cornered contests, where the BJP and two opposition parties are pitted against each other.
Addressing concern about the splitting of votes between two opposition candidates that might help the BJP, state Congress chief Raj Babbar said the party will "think four times before helping the BJP" on any seat in Uttar Pradesh. "If there is a seat where the BJP is being helped because of the way things are, we will see if we can replace candidates," added the actor-politician.
The seats the Congress will skip include Mainpuri, from where Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting, Kannauj, where his daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav is expected to run, Raj Babbar said. Besides, the prospective seats of Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhary as well as Mayawati, would be on the Congress "no contest" list.
The seats embargoed by both sides have been the subject of jibes. Earlier, pointing to the two Congress seats - all the party managed to win in 2014 - Akhilesh Yadav had said they showed that the Congress was part of the alliance.
Upset with what they have called tardy and sometimes negative communication from the Congress to seat sharing, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have left the national party out of their alliance.
It has triggered concern among key opposition leaders like Chandrababu Naidu and Sharad Pawar, who want a stronger opposition alliance in face of the BJP's aggressive campaign built around nationalism and national security.
Last week, in an interview with NDTV, Akhilesh Yadav said while the time for alliances is past, the Congress should now "help" the other political parties.
"The time has run out. It is difficult to come together. But the Congress is a big party. It must try to help the other political parties," Akhilesh Yadav told NDTV.
"They must try to help Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. In Delhi they Arvind Kejriwal can fight and they must support them. In Uttar Pradesh, we have an alliance ready, they must support us," he added.
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