As SP, BSP tie up, Cong to go it alone in all 80 seats in UP
LS POLLS Mayawati, Akhilesh closed chapter, says Cong
LUCKNOW : The Congress on Sunday announced its decision to contest all 80 Uttar Pradesh seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and said it was willing to accommodate secular forces, a day after the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said they were tying up in the state without the Rahul Gandhi-led party in the fold.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati on Saturday declared an alliance for the general elections, in which each will contest 38 seats in Uttar Pradesh, leaving two for smaller allies, and staying away from the Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli.
Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party was ready to take on board any secular force that was capable of challenging the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
He said the Congress president will hold at least 13 election campaign rallies in the state.
“We wanted the Congress to be a part of the grand alliance [against the BJP] in Uttar Pradesh. But if someone does not want to walk along, nothing can be done,” Azad told reporters after a meeting of Congress leaders to discuss the party’s strategy following the SP-BSP combine’s announcement.
“The Congress will contest on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh and defeat the BJP,” he said.
“If any party is willing to accompany the Congress and the Congress feels that it can fight the BJP, then it will definitely be accommodated,” Azad added.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the SP won five seats, while the BSP failed to win any. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got 71 seats and its ally Apna Dal two seats out of the total 80.
The Congress won Rae Bareli and Amethi — held by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. In the 2017 assembly polls, SP and BSP got 22% votes each while the BJP got 42.6% votes, winning 312 of the total 403 seats.
The SP and BSP chose not to include the Congress in their battle against the BJP, saying that there is no real gain in aligning with the party. “Congress party rule hasn’t benefitted anyone. There’s no real vote transfer from Congress and hence no real gain from aligning with Congress,” Mayawati said.
■ Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad (L) and Raj Babbar addressing a press conference in Lucknow on Sunday.