Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday said his party was ready to fight the Lok Sabha elections alone but hoped there would be a rethink on the SP-BSP alliance for Uttar Pradesh. The Congress cannot be underestimated in Uttar Pradesh and will fight on its own strength if required, the former Union minister said after the two parties announced a seat-sharing pact, keeping the Congress out. But he hoped that the agreement between Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati was not the final word.
As the elections approach, a truly broad-based alliance will be formed in Uttar Pradesh, Chidambaram said on the sidelines of a party event here. Chidambaram said the goal was to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party and expressed hope that all secular, liberal parties would come together to fight the elections.
Earlier in Lucknow, the SP and BSP announced an alliance, under which they will fight 38 Lok Sabha seats each out of the 80 in the state.
They left Amethi and Rae Bareli the two seats from where Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi contested last time for the Congress. Two other seats will be shared with smaller allies, the SP and the BSP announced.
Chidambaram was here to seek suggestions from the people on what to include in the Congress manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Asking a gathering of about 200 people to speak their minds, Chidambaram said his party was not the BJP and in Congress people from all walks of life are heard.
The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the “demolition” of some temples to make way for the Vishwanath temple corridor in Varanasi were among the issues discussed. Asking a gathering of over 200 people to speak their mind on their demands, Chidambaram said this is not the BJP, and in Congress all people from all walks of life would be heard.
During the interaction, Goods and the Services Tax (GST) took centre stage. Many claimed the faulty implementation of GST had ruined small and medium scale businesses. Some hoped GST would be withdrawn "as it was imposing double tax."
The issue of demolishing temples for the Vishwanath temple corridor and the cleaning of Ganga was discussed. One Kamla Tripathi said, "The BJP ahead of 2014 elections promised to clean the river by 2019. What does the Congress plan to do for the river?" He said removing dams would help the free flow of the river.
Another local Chandrasekhar said there was a tremendous job crisis and hoped the manufacturing sector would be revived. One Onkar Mishra said banks were acting like money lenders ('sahukars') and businesses were suffering.
"Banaras Hindu University needs to be freed from the clutches of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Three vice chancellors have been made vice chancellors," said former official of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) V Pandey.