Cong Kept Out of UP Alliance to Correct Poll Arithmetic: Akhilesh
Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav has said despite his "immense respect" for Congress President Rahul Gandhi, the grand old party was kept out of the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh to correct "poll arithmetic" in order to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Asked if the SP was open to working with Congress after the polls, Akhilesh said, "We can't answer it right now. We will answer it after the elections. But I can say this much that the country wants a new prime minister and it will have one after polls".
Akhilesh was speaking exclusively to PTI during his visit to Kolkata for the 19 January united opposition rally.
‘Lost 2017 Assembly Elections Because My Poll Arithmetic Was Not Right’
He said despite carrying out a lot of developmental works during his tenure as Uttar Pradesh chief minister, he lost the 2017 Assembly elections as his poll arithmetic was not right.
"So, I decided to correct the arithmetic by taking along Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal and left two seats for the Congress," he said.
‘Can’t Lose Seats to BJP Just to Pacify Others’
The Samajwadi Party and the Congress had joined hands in the 2017 Assembly polls in UP, but lost to the BJP.
Congress to Contest From All 80 LS Seats in UP
Left out of the SP-BSP pre-poll tie-up in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has announced that it would go alone in all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state for the upcoming general election.
Congress’ decision to contest in all the 80 seats came in the backdrop of SP and BSP announcing their alliance in Uttar Pradesh, sharing 38 seats each, and leaving two seats for the smaller parties, besides leaving Rae Bareli and Amethi to United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhiand Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, respectively.
‘Keeping Congress Out of UP Alliance Strengthened Opposition Unity’
When asked whether keeping Congress out of the Opposition alliance would dampen the prospects of Opposition in the politically crucial state, Akhilesh said:
“With this seat adjustment, we have further strengthened the Opposition unity. We have kept two seats for Congress. Our relationship with the Congress has always been good. The issue of relationship is different. The main issue is how to defeat the BJP and I have worked towards that arithmetic.”
Akhilesh had earlier said that the Samajwadi Party's alliance with BSP and the RLD was "final" and there would be no issues as regards seat-sharing in the Lok Sabha polls, while ruling out any understanding with the Congress.
"We have left two seats for them. Now, they (Congress) have decided to fight in 78 other seats. If they want to fight it is up to them. We have nothing to say about it," he said.
‘SP-BSP Will Not Field Candidates in Rae Bareli and Amethi’
When asked if the alliance would field candidates in the changed scenario as the Congress has decided to contest in all the 80 seats, he said SP-BSP will not do so in Rae Bareli and Amethi.
‘Will Be Glad if Next PM is From UP’
When asked to comment on Rahul Gandhi's remarks that he has "tremendous respect" for the leaders of SP and BSP, Akhilesh said he also has immense respect for Rahul Gandhi.
‘Will Decide on PM After Elections’
Asked who is his first choice as PM – BSP chief Mayawati or Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee – Akhilesh refused to give a direct reply and said efforts should be made to elect a new prime minister and some issues can be discussed after the polls.
Akhilesh, however, sounded confident that regional parties, which have come together at the 19 January Brigade Parade Ground rally in Kolkata organised by the Trinamool Congress would stay together even after the polls.