Cong ready to go it alone in UP, says state leader


Lucknow: The Congress is ready to go it alone in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections, a senior state leader said on Friday as speculation about an SP-BSP seat sharing alliance spiralled with the two parties announcing a joint press conference of their chiefs.

The Congress already has 45 seats in the Lok Sabha, more than any other regional player, said the party’s media coordinator Rajiv Bakshi.

His comments came as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party announced that their leaders, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, would jointly address a press conference on Saturday, signalling a ‘gathbandhan’ excluding the Congress.

“We are a political party and are ready to fight the coming elections alone in Uttar Pradesh,” Bakshi told PTI.

“We alone have 45 seats in the Lok Sabha and it is any day many more than the regional players… a ‘mahagathbandhan’ in the Lok Sabha elections need to be built around the party having a national face,” Bakshi said,

“We are ready to take along like minded parties and they can come together with us,” he said.

Discussing the Congress’ poll preparedness, Bakshi said the party has an organisation and is getting ready for an election.

“Where there are glitches, we are revamping it. We will be all set for the polls soon,” he added.

Another senior leader added that talk on a ‘mahagathbandhan’ had been going on for a while but Congress members in the state were of the opinion that the party should it go alone as it has an independent identity among the people.

“A decision on who to join hands with always rests with the party high command, but we will apprise them that workers and supporters want the Congress to go alone in Uttar Pradesh where it still has its own identity which is different from these parties,” he said.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when, too, the situation seemed against the Congress, the party got 21 seats in the state, paving the way for the return of the UPA government at the Centre, he said.

Party leaders here said the Central leadership did not respond to the statements of Akhilesh Yadav or Mayawati during the recent Assembly elections in five states, making it clear that it might prefer to go it alone.

They also said party president Rahul Gandhi had made it clear that the Congress cannot be underestimated.

In an interview to Gulf News ahead of his visit to UAE on January 11, Gandhi said the Congress idea is very powerful in Uttar Pradesh. “So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people,” he was quoted as saying.

Gandhi’s comments were the first indication of the party’s plan B after the regional players seemed to have deserted it.

Sources in the Congress said Gandhi will soon meet UPCC president Raj Babbar and AICC in-charge of party affairs in the state Ghulam Nabi Azad to deliberate on the matter.

“There are chances that Gandhi will set up a committee to finalise issues concerning elections,” a party leader said.