Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav has stated that 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 BJP.
Without ruling out the possibility of serving with the Congress after polls, Akhilesh said he has good relations with the party and would be “happy” if the next prime minister was from his home state.
Demanded if the SP was open to working with Congress after the polls, Akhilesh said, “We can’t answer it right now. We will give solution for it after the elections. But I can say this much that the country needs a new prime minister and it will have one after polls”.
“If you take out the number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, you will notice that the BJP government doesn’t have the majority. BJP keeps talking about social engineering. So, I also decided to correct my poll arithmetic and did it through this alliance,” Akhilesh said.
He stated that 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 further said.
Left out of the SP-BSP pre-poll tie-up in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has stated that it would go it alone in all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state for the upcoming general election.
Congress’ decision to contest in each of 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 Gandhi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, subsequently.
When demanded 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 Congress has always been good. The issue of relationship is different. The main issue is how to defeat BJP and I have worked towards that arithmetic”.
Akhilesh had before stated that the Samajwadi Party’s alliance with BSP and the RLD was “final” and there would be no matters 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 stated.
When demanded 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.
Akhilesh, however, maintained that keeping Congress out of the alliance and giving them just two seats will not have any result on the opposition vote share in the polls.
When questioned to comment on Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that he has “tremendous respect” for the leaders of SP and BSP, Akhilesh said that he also has immense respect for Rahul Gandhi.
Questioned who is his first choice as PM – BSP chief Mayawati or Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee – Akhilesh denied to give a direct reply and said efforts should be made to elect a new prime minister and some matters can be discussed after the polls.