New Delhi :
Efforts to form grand secular alliance in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh gained momentum on Monday after the Election Commission recognised Akhilesh Yadav-led faction as Samajwadi Party and granted it the "bicycle" poll symbol.
Soon after the EC order, SP general secretary Ramgopal Yadav, a close associate of Akhilesh, expressed hope a grand alliance will be formed to fight elections in the state.
"It is Akhilesh Yadav who will decide on the alliance. But I am hopeful it will happen," he added.
Congress leader Sheila Dikshit also congratulated Akhilesh on the Election Commission allotting the 'Bicycle' symbol to his faction of the Samajwadi Party amid indication that talks were on between the two parties for an alliance for the upcoming polls.
"I congratulate Akhilesh Yadav on getting the party symbol. It is good that the Election Commission has taken a decision on the issue," she said.
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Asked about Congress' possible alliance with Akhilesh-led Samajwadi Party, she refused to give a direct reply but indicated that talks were underway between the two sides.
"I will not say anything at this point. The party will take a call on the issue. Let's see what happens. It will not be proper to say anything till something happens," Dikshit, Congress' chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh, told PTI.
Sources said talks for a possible alliance between Congress and the faction-led by Akhilesh were on as both sides were keen for it.
Congress spokesman and former Union minister RPN Singh was among the first to hail the EC order, which he said, shows that Akhilesh enjoys "90 per cent support" in the organisation as also among the legislators of the Samajwadi Party.
Talk in Congress circles was that party General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ramgopal Yadav from SP are sorting out disputes over some seats.
Uttar Pradesh has 403 Assembly constituencies where Akhilesh's party would be contesting the majority of seats and would also have RLD as a junior partner in Western Uttar Pradesh, which was once a stronghold of Ajit Singh.
The three parties will have to race against time to finalise the seat arrangements in the next two days as the Western Uttar Pradesh, where Ajit Singh enjoys some influence, goes to polls in the first two phases.
Talk is that the three parties would come out with a common minimum programme.
The SP general secretary also said the list of party candidates will be released in a day or two.
Leaders from the three parties insist that the main task in Uttar Pradesh is to stop the Narendra Modi-led BJP from coming to power.
In 2015 assembly elections in Bihar, the Congress had joined hands with JD(U) and RJD to form a grand alliance, which caused a major upset for BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi by easily securing power.