Akhilesh ready to ‘walk extra mile’ in seat sharing with Congress

Lucknow :  Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has said that he is ready to walk an extra mile when it comes to seat sharing with the Congress because his main concern is to defeat the BJP.

Akhilesh, so far, has been maintaining a studied silence on his relationship with the Congress, giving rise to speculations about the fate of INDIA alliance in Uttar Pradesh.

Former UPCC chief Brijlal Khabri’s statements that party cadres in the state were not in favour of alliance with SP, further strained the relationship.

On July 6, Brijlal Khabri had issued a statement in Lucknow saying that Congress workers in the state were open to alliance with any party but SP in the 2024 polls.

The SP leadership took exception to such a strong statement by the then UPCC chief and that, too, days before the opposition alliance was to get together in Bengaluru for their second meeting on July 19.

Thereafter the SP went silent on alliance with the Congress party in UP for the 2024 polls. SP’s displeasure over Khabri’s statement was apparently noticed by the Congress leadership in Delhi.

Finally, on August 17, Khabri was removed from the post of UPCC chief after a short stint of 10 months. He was replaced by party’s regional president Ajay Rai. The development comes days before the opposition alliance is all set to meet again, this time in Mumbai on August 31 where SP and Congress are expected to discuss the final seat-sharing formula in the state for the 2024 polls.

“UP mein Congress ko kya dena hai ye koi bada sawal nahi hai. Bada sawal ye hai ki BJP ko harana hai, ” Akhilesh Yadav said, responding to a specific query posed to him at a function in Delhi on Saturday.

On his past experience of SP’s alliance with the Congress in 2016 assembly polls and with the BSP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Akhilesh said that both the alliances were a great learning experience.

“I have always entered into an alliance to defeat the BJP as the prime objective. Samajwadi Party has always decided on the seat-sharing formula with a big heart, ” he said.

“The problem with the Congress is that most of its ticket seekers from UP, like Jitin Prasada (Dhaurahra), RPN Singh (Kushinagar), Imran Masood (Saharanpur), Ratna Singh (Pratapgarh) and Harendra Malik (Muzaffarnagar) are no longer with the Congress while its leaders in Kanpur and Unnao are no longer active in politics.

“In such a scenario, the Congress is not in a position to drive a hard bargain, ” said a party leader.