A day after the official announcement of the pre-poll alliance between Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Sunday said that it will go alone and contest all the 80 seats in the state. Addressing a press conference at party headquarters in Lucknow, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the Congress party was ready to go with every party against the BJP but after the SP-BSP announced their alliance sans the Grand Old Party, they closed this chapter (of the alliance).
“We didn't break this alliance, the public should know that. We had earlier also said that we're ready to walk with every party that wants to defeat BJP. But we can't force anyone. They've (SP-BSP) closed this chapter, so we'll continue this fight for defeating BJP on our own,” Azad said.
Citing the Congress party’s performance in the 2009 Lok Sabha performance when it emerged the number one party in the state, Azad said that they will fight on all the 80 seats on their own.
“We will fight on all 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh in upcoming Lok Sabha elections. We are fully prepared. And just like Congress emerged no. 1 party in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, we'll fight on our own and win twice those no. of seats in upcoming elections,” he added.
Earlier on Saturday, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati had made a formal announcement of their coalition for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Although the SP-BSP alliance decided not to field their candidates against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi and Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli, they kept the Congress party out of their alliance.
“We won't gain anything by including Congress in our alliance. Both BSP and SP have experienced in the past that Congress's vote is not transferrable,” Mayawati said, adding that they are leaving two seats for the Congress party without including them in the grand coalition.
Reacting to the SP-BSP alliance, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that nobody should make the “dangerous mistake” to ignore the Grand Old Party even if the party was going through the tough phase.
“Nobody should underestimate the Congress with its reach, presence and support base in Uttar Pradesh. Congress is an established party in the state... We may have fallen in difficult times but ignoring us will be a dangerous mistake," Singhvi said.