Maya, Akhilesh skip oath events in message to Cong

Maya, Akhilesh skip oath events in message to Cong

Congress President Rahul Gandhi (2nd L), former prime minister Manmohan Singh (L), NCP chief Sharad Pawar (2nd R), Loktantrik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav (R) and other senior opposition leaders on their way to Albert Hall to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Ashok Gehlot government, in Jaipur, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. (PTI Photo)

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati skipped the swearing-in ceremonies of Congress chief ministers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh on Monday.

The leaders’ absence shows they are not ready to cede space to the grand old party in a possible ‘grand alliance’ of Opposition parties in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh to take on the BJP in 2019 polls. According to sources in SP and BSP, the decision to skip the ceremonies was “intended” to send a message to the Congress that it could join the alliance in Uttar Pradesh only on their terms.

“The Congress should understand that UP is not MP or Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh... It has very little presence here. It is not in a position to set terms for the alliance,” said a senior SP leader. “The Congress had chosen not to ally with us in the Assembly polls in three Hindi-speaking states on the grounds that we had demanded more seats than what we deserved. The same will apply to the Congress in UP also,” said a BSP leader.

Sources said DMK leader Stalin’s projection of Rahul Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate also did not go down well with Mayawati, who herself nursed the same ambitions.