SP for grand tie-up with Cong, RLD

May force BJP to rework strategy in UP

SP for grand tie-up with Cong, RLD

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday signalled the formation of a grand alliance with the Congress and other like-minded smaller outfits in the state to take on the BJP.

This comes a day after the Election Commission recognised Akhilesh as the Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo and granted him the right over the party’s cycle symbol.   

In an informal chat with reporters here, Akhilesh said a decision on the alliance would be announced in a day or two. “What Ram Gopal chacha (uncle) has said about an alliance is correct... we will also finalise our list of Assembly poll nominees in the next 24 hours,” he said.

Ram Gopal had earlier said that the SP and the Congress were likely to have an electoral alliance in UP. On whether he would share the stage with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, the chief minister refused to give a direct reply.

The Congress is eyeing a maximum 100 of the 403 Assembly seats, while the RLD has staked claim to 36 seats – mostly in its stronghold of western UP. Akhilesh has taken control of the seat-sharing negotiations.

“For now, I can say there will be a Congress-SP alliance under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC general secretary in charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh, told reporters here.

The Congress believes that the SP-Congress combination would help consolidate the Muslim-Yadav communities, and Ajit Singh’s RLD will ensure the support of the Jat voters. Muslims constitute 18.5% of the Uttar Pradesh electorate, while 14% are Yadavs. The JD(U) is also expected to get a couple of seats.

The grand alliance, which looks formidable on paper, may force the BJP to rework its strategy in the key state where demonetisation, agrarian distress and development are expected to be crucial issues.

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