Mu­layam for PM, Rahul as his deputy is Akhilesh’s grand al­liance for­mula

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE -

NEW DELHI: Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter Akhilesh Ya­dav of­fered a deal to the Congress on Fri­day, say­ing the Sa­ma­jwadi Party was game for a tie-up if his fa­ther and party chief Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav was made the prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date for the 2019 gen­eral elec­tion with Rahul Gandhi as his deputy.

The Congress vice-pres­i­dent, in the au­di­ence on the open­ing day of the Hin­dus­tan Times Lead­er­ship Sum­mit where Ya­dav made the of­fer, smiled but re­fused com­ment when asked if he had any­thing to say about the of­fer.

“I have ar­tic­u­lated my de­sire and am will­ing to seal the al­liance to­day it­self, if the Congress agrees,” Ya­dav said, dwelling on the pos­si­bil­i­ties of anti-BJP par­ties cob­bling up a Bi­har-style grand al­liance in 2019. He said all non-NDA par­ties were wel­come to join such a com­bine.

“I also wish that Ne­taji’s dream is ful­filled… he also be­comes the prime min­is­ter,” said the 42-year-old chief min­is­ter in a tongue-in-cheek ri­poste to re­ports about his fa­ther’s ul­ti­mate po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tion.

When asked in an in­ter­view with HT af­ter the ses­sion why the Congress would agree to make Mu­layam the PM when the Congress is a na­tional party and the SP only a re­gional force, Ya­dav said, “We are in power in the state. For the sake of the coun­try’s sec­u­lar fab­ric, we are ready for a gath­band­han (grand al­liance).

“I was asked a ques­tion and I an­swered it. In the past, the Congress has sup­ported smaller par­ties. Let there be a de­bate on Ne­taji head­ing the gath­band­han.”

On the pos­si­bil­ity of a Bi­harstyle wider al­liance with his po­lit­i­cal foe Mayawati, who he re­ferred to as ‘bua’ or aunt, the chief min­is­ter said, “The elec­tions are still some time away... no party will go in for a gath­band­han. We are not think­ing in terms of a gath­band­han.”

Ya­dav, a youth­ful leader among In­dia’s grand­fa­therly politi­cians who swept to power in a land­slide vic­tory in 2012, scoffed at crit­i­cism that his fa­ther was the “su­per CM” and he of­ten up­braided his son in pub­lic. “Does any­one feel hurt when a fa­ther scolds you … we are sama­jwaadis, so­cial­ists, and are trans­par­ent.”

He fielded a range of ques­tions, in­clud­ing al­le­ga­tions of a BJP-SP se­cret deal prior to the 2017 elec­tions, communal po­lar­i­sa­tion in the state and his “lack of grip” over the state ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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I have ar­tic­u­lated my de­sire and am will­ing to seal the al­liance to­day it­self, if the Congress agrees... I also wish that Ne­taji’s dream is ful­filled… that he also be­comes the prime min­is­ter.

AKHILESH YA­DAV, UP chief min­is­ter

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