A seat-sharing pact between Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party for 2019 elections has been almost finalised and there have been indications that the two big players from the opposition camp in Uttar Pradesh could leave the Congress out. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has finally responded to the reports but asserted that his party, which was ready to go solo, would not just do well but also “surprise” everyone.
The Congress has the ability to surprise people with results in UP, Rahul Gandhi said in an interview to Gulf News. “There are very interesting things that the Congress party can do in Uttar Pradesh… the Congress idea is very powerful for Uttar Pradesh. So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people,” he said.
The Congress chief’s comments come days after reports that the SP-BSP alliance may only give two seats to the Congress—Amethi and Raebareli, the Lok Sabha constituencies of Rahul Gandhi and UPA chief Sonia Gandhi.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had on Sunday said that details of the seat-sharing agreement with Mayawati’s BSP may be announced in a week but refused to talk about the possibility of the Congress joining them. “You will come to know about it (alliance) in a week or so,” he had said.
In his interview, just days ahead of his two-day visit to the UAE from January 11, Rahul Gandhi said the Congress is leaving no stone unturned to stitch an alliance and defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.
“We are trying to bring opposition together… I have heard some statements in the media but we are going to work together and make sure that we defeat Mr Modi. But, I just want to say again – to underestimate the Congress in UP is a big mistake,” said the Congress president.
Rahul asserted that the primary objective is to defeat PM Modi. “Our first aim is to defeat Narendra Modi. There are states where we are very strong and we are the primary party and are contesting the BJP directly. There are states where there are possible alliances – Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar…where we are working out an alliance formula.
Earlier, SP vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda had said his party, together with the BSP, is strong enough to defeat the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in 2019 and there is no need of an “insignificant” force like the Congress to make it happen.
“The SP-BSP alliance is the main force which will take on the BJP. The Congress might be there in one or two seats, it is for the Congress to decide what position it wishes to see itself in,” Nanda had said.
The politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. In the last parliamentary elections in 2014, the BJP won 71 seats, Samajwadi Party got five while the BSP did not win any seat. The Congress registered wins on two seats.
Last year, the opposition parties defeated the ruling BJP in three Lok Sabha bypolls. In the Kairana Lok Sabha by-elections held in May, the BJP lost to the joint opposition candidate, RLD’s Tabassum Hasan. In March, the BJP lost the Lok Sabha bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.