Congress will con­test all 80 seats in UP on its own

Hindustan Times (Noida) - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­[email protected]­dus­tan­ n

› We wanted Congress to be a part of the grand al­liance [against the BJP]... But if some­one does not want to walk along, noth­ing can be done GHU­LAM NABI AZAD, Cong leader

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. We won’t ally with any party which will hurt our po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions,” Mayawati said. A day af­ter his joint news con­fer­ence with Mayawati, Ya­dav said the al­liance has un­nerved the BJP so much that the party’s de­mor­alised and des­per­ate lead­ers and work­ers now want to join the SP and BSP. Re­spond­ing to ques­tions over be­ing left out of the SP-BSP al­liance, Azad said: “The Congress work­ers are not at all dis­ap­pointed on be­ing left out of the al­liance. On the con­trary, they are say­ing the party would have had to con­test on 25 seats, but now it would be con­test­ing on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.” Azad ac­cused the BJP of di­vid­ing the coun­try for power and said that the saf­fron party failed to ful­fil its poll prom­ises. “The com­ing Lok Sabha elec­tion is a bat­tle to unite In­dia and safe­guard the demo­cratic val­ues,” he said.

Re­act­ing to the Congress’s an­nounce­ment, UP BJP spokesper­son Chan­dramo­han said: “The fear of the BJP and Modiji is mak­ing the op­po­si­tion ner­vous. Be it Congress or the rest, they are re­ally wor­ried and we un­der­stand their des­per­a­tion.”

Shortly af­ter the Congress press con­fer­ence in Lucknow, Shiv­pal Singh Ya­dav said his Pra­gatisheel Sa­ma­jwadi Party­lo­hia (PSPL) was ready to form an al­liance with the Congress in Ut­tar Pradesh. Shiv­pal Ya­dav has parted ways with the Akhilesh Ya­dav-led SP, form­ing his own po­lit­i­cal out­fit.

“No al­liance can de­feat the BJP with­out sup­port from the PSPL, the Bahu­jan Mukti Party and our other al­lies. We are ready to form an al­liance with other sec­u­lar par­ties to de­feat the BJP in the Lok Sabha elec­tions and oust it from power at the Cen­tre,” Ya­dav told ANI.

SK Dwivedi, a for­mer pro­fes­sor at Lucknow Uni­ver­sity, said: “SP, BSP and Congress should have come to­gether for larger im­pact of al­liance. As the SP-BSP al­liance and Congress will con­test the poll sep­a­rately, the non­bjp votes will be di­vided and may not have the de­sired im­pact.”

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