In what could lead to a major political realignment ahead of the general elections, arch rivals and former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav had announced a pre-poll coalition on Saturday, leaving out the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress, which has been attempting to stitch together an anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance.
“We did not break the alliance. They decided that they will not align with us. So, what can we do...we will fight on our own and contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats," Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress’s veteran lawmaker and in-charge of the crucial state told reporters in Lucknow on Sunday.
“We have spoken about alliances since the beginning and had said that we welcome any party interested in defeating the BJP...If any political party is willing to accompany us and we feel that they can fight the BJP, then it will be definitely accommodated," he said, when asked if Congress was open to aligning with smaller parties such as Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
While the SP-BSP combine decided not to contest Gandhi bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli, Azad did not directly attack the two regional parties, and instead, focused his criticism on the BJP, claiming that this election was “not about states, but about the Lok Sabha". There is a section of opposition leaders who feel that there is still room for negotiations between the SP-BSP alliance and Congress, even in a post-poll scenario.
With Congress not having any large partner in Uttar Pradesh, it has decided that Rahul Gandhi will lead the campaign with over a dozen rallies in the coming months. The party is looking to double its 2009 tally of 21 LS seats. While the top leadership is banking on its recent performance in north Indian states, having just 2 Lok Sabha MPs from UP is a damper.