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Congress in Alliance or Not, End Result Same for BJP: Rahul Gandhi After SP-BSP's Snub

Gandhi asserted that the Congress party now has to stand alone in UP and expressed confidence that it could spring a surprise.

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Updated:January 12, 2019, 10:24 PM IST
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Congress in Alliance or Not, End Result Same for BJP: Rahul Gandhi After SP-BSP's Snub
Congress president Rahul Gandhi interacts with students in Dubai on Saturday. (AICC Photo via PTI)
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New Delhi: Hours after Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party became partners-in-polls to take on the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh, an unfazed Rahul Gandhi said the Congress would spring a surprise in the forthcoming general elections.

“The BSP and the SP have every right to have an alliance. Mayawati and Akhilesh have taken the decision, now Congress party has to stand alone in UP,” the Congress president said at a press conference in Dubai, all but confirming that the party would fight the polls alone in the crucial state, making it a triangular contest.

Rejecting suggestions that not being part of the alliance was a setback for the Congress, Gandhi said it does not matter if his party fights separately or together with the SP and BSP, because the end result would be the same – “the BJP won’t get their seats”.

Gandhi’s comments offer an insight into the likely political understanding that has gone into forming the pact for Uttar Pradesh and why Congress was not included.

While SP and BSP will be contesting 76 out of 80 seats and RLD will take two, the alliance has now taken responsibility of the state and has left the national task of dethroning the BJP from the Centre to the Congress. The current alliance statistic also allows the Congress to eat into the BJP’s vote share.

Secondly, in a polarised election, an anti-BJP mobilisation of opposition parties tends to suit the BJP narrative and strategy. A BJP versus others fight has a high possibility of metamorphosing to Hindu versus others election. The Congress in the fray tends to temper the element of polarity, thus giving space to SP-BSP in making the polling caste-centric.

Mayawati, while announcing the historic alliance at a press conference, had slammed the Congress as she explained why the party was not included, but Gandhi refused to counter the comments, saying, “They spoke wrong things against the Congress but it’s okay… we will find our place.”

The Congress chief further said that he believes that his party still has a lot to offer UP. “We will obviously fight the elections in UP. We will do our best. We will fight for our ideology,” he said.

Despite Mayawati attacking the Congress, the alliance partners have decided not to field candidates in the two Gandhi bastions - Rae Bareli and Amethi - represented by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul respectively.

The Congress leadership on the whole has maintained a stoic silence and refused to comment on being left out of the alliance. Asked to comment on the tie-up, senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party would not react immediately and would come out with a detailed reaction in Lucknow on Sunday.

But P Chidambaram, a former finance minister, said he hoped that the SP and BSP rethink their decision and that the alliance they have formed without the Congress is not final. But he added that if necessary, the Congress party will contest elections on its own strength.

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