UP polls: Rahul, Akhilesh to launch joint SP-Congress campaign this week
With Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls round the corner, the alliance talks between the Congress and ruling Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party has once again gained media attention.
Despite family feud in the Samajwadi Party, both parties appear to have agreed to launch a joint election campaign in the state which will go to polls in seven phases between February 11 and March 8.
According a report in Times of India, the campaign will be launched later this week and led by Gandhi siblings – Rahul and Priyanka, along with Akhilesh and his wife Dimple Yadav.
It should be noted that the Congress-Samajwadi Party are yet to make a formal announcement about their alliance for the polls. The report mentioned that the ongoing infighting within the UP’s first family has delayed the declaration.
The campaign is most likely to be kicked-off on January 13, the day UP Chief Minister Akhilesh and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s petitions claiming ‘cycle’ symbol comes before the Election Commission for a final call as to who will enter the poll fray with the present symbol of the Samajwadi Party.
Election Commission’s ruling favourable to Akhilesh can lead to the launch of the alliance the same day, the TOI report quoted sources as saying.
The development is important because Akhilesh wanted to enter the poll fray with Congress and he had in past dropped ample hints in public domain regarding the pact. He had even predicted that a Samajwadi-Congress combine can win over 300 seats.
The Chief Minister had held preliminary discussions with Priyanka in December, in which both sides showed their willingness to align ahead of the polls.
After Rahul's return from his overseas trip yesterday, a final meeting to seal the partnership is expected this week, the report said.
Yesterday, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad urged ‘secular forces’ to close ranks, a remark seen as ending the ambiguity around the Congress-SP alliance.
Earlier, there were reports that the seat sharing issue between both the parties has been almost finalised and an announcement was likely anytime. But the power tussle in the SP derailed the alliance talks.
India TV had reported that the Samajawadi Party had agreed to offer the Congress 110 of the total 403 assembly seats. The Samajwadi Party now holds 229 seats, the principal opposition Bahujan Samaj Party has 80 while the Congress has 29 legislators.
Also the leaders of both the parties feel that the alliance will be beneficial for the ruling party and Congress, which is political wilderness from last 27 years in the state, to halt BJP's march.
Congress's chief ministerial face in UP, Sheila Dikshit, had also suggested that she will step aside to accommodate Akhilesh and Rahul if they take centrestage in the polls.
While Akhilesh is looking to get another term, the Congress wants to be the kingmaker this time. The grand old party had secured just two seats in the last Lok Sabha elections with party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi emerging victorious from their traditional seats of Rae Bareli and Amethi, respectively.
The Congress is in political wilderness in Uttar Pradesh since 1989 following emergence of divisive ‘Mandal-Mandir’ politics and rise of the BSP, which took away its crucial Dalit vote base.
Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state, will go to the polls in seven phases between February 11 and March 8. Results will be declared on March 11.