Lucknow: The Congress has a sales pitch for Uttar Pradesh: "Apne ladkey, baahri Modi" (Home Boys vs Outsider Modi). The tagline offers Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress boss Rahul Gandhi as a package deal against the PM, who represents Varanasi in parliament.
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Congress sources said that the catchphrase has been offered for review to Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party after they finalised their alliance over the weekend. The symbiosis is based on the calculation that together, the parties stand a good chance of accruing the support of the Muslims, who constitute a formidable 18 per cent of the population and have traditionally voted for either the Congress or the Samajwadi Party.
Rahul Gandhi, Congress No 2, is expected to address some rallies with Akhilesh Yadav, though Congress sources today dispelled the notion, floated largely by the Samajwadi Party, that Rahul Gandhi's sister, Priyanka Gandhi, may campaign alongside the Chief Minister's wife, Dimple Yadav.
Akhilesh Yadav, promising jobs, computers and better education to young voters, aced the last election in 2012. This time around, he has pledged free pressure cookers to poor women to ease their kitchen routines, more laptops, and "smartphones for all." In the general election, with PM Modi as its centre, the BJP won 71 of the state's 80 parliamentary seats, while Akhilesh Yadav's party was impoverished with just five.
That has convinced him that a repeat can be avoided only if he has the Congress in tow. For the Congress, meanwhile, battered by a series of electoral losses, hitch-hiking with Akhilesh Yadav offers a chance at some glory, however reflected it may be.
The other big contender is Mayawati, four-time Chief Minister, who has been building her campaign with huge rallies organised by a gigantic cadre.