Con­gress will con­test all 80 seats in UP on its own

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­[email protected]­dus­tan­ CON­TIN­UED ON P 6

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.

GHU­LAM NABI AZAD, Cong leader

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