Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati's announcement of an alliance, snubbing the Congress and Shivpal Yadav's party, might result in another interesting equation in Uttar Pradesh. Although the Congress said today that it will contest in all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, it dropped a hint saying it was open to take help from "like-minded" parties. Shivpal Yadav - the former Samajwadi Party leader who launched his own party last year after falling out with nephew Akhilesh - reacted to the comment, saying he is ready to take up the offer if the Congress wants.
After being left out of the BSP-SP equation, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, gave a measured response on Saturday. "I have tremendous respect for the leaders of the BSP and Samajwadi Party, and recognise that they have the right to do what they want. It's on us to strengthen the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh, and we will fight to our full capacity," PTI quoted him as saying.
The Congress announced on Sunday that they would face the BSP-SP alliance on all the seats. "Everyone knows that parliament fight is between the Congress and the BJP. We'll certainly take the help of like minded-parties and respect such parties who are fighting the BJP," Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters at a press conference.
Shivpal Yadav, once a minister in Akhilesh Yadav's cabinet in Uttar Pradesh, gave a stronger reaction, saying the alliance was not possible without his party. "This alliance is incomplete without PSP-L (his party Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia). Only a secular front can defeat the BJP," Mr Yadav said on Saturday.
Changing his tone on Sunday, he said ,"We have not had discussions, but all the secular parties - Congress is also there - if the Congress contacts us, talks to us, then I am totally ready."
Both the Congress and Shivpal Yadav were hoping they would be part of the alliance.
The Congress was in talks for a pan-India, anti-BJP alliance with regional parties, including the BSP and SP. It had a fallout with Mayawati's party over seat sharing in Madhya Pradesh. Mayawati later gave outside support to the party in the state. Akhilesh Yadav, who also supported the Congress, was miffed after government formation when his lone MLA was not included in Kamal Nath's council of ministers.
Shivpal Yadav, despite differences with Akhilesh Yadav, had got his father Mulayam Singh Yadav to attend his rally last year. On a grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh, he had said he was not averse to the idea. His hopes were dashed on Saturday when Mayawati said his party was funded by the BJP to divide "secular" votes.
With inputs from agencies