Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav today said his priority was strengthening the party organisation and he was not thinking of an alliance ahead of the “crucial” 2019 general elections. Terming the process of talks and seat negotiations a waste of time, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who had tied up with the Congress for the assembly elections in 2017, ruled out alliances “as of now”. “The 2019 election is certainly crucial as the message from Uttar Pradesh will go out to the entire country. As of now, I am not thinking of an alliance with any party. It (alliance talks and seat negotiations) wastes a lot of time and I don’t want to be in confusion (over seats),” Yadav told PTI in an exclusive interview. Yadav said he was working on strengthening the party’s vote bank. Suggesting that the party could bargain at a later stage if an alliance materialises, he said his style of politics is different and he is open to “friendships” with like minded parties.
However, his priority at present was to strengthen the organisation of the party. The SP-Congress combine was trounced in the 2017 state elections, with the BJP and its allies winning 325 seats in the 403-member House. While SP got 47 seats, the Congress won seven. “There is time before the elections. The Lok Sabha polls are in 2019. We are presently working on each seat, going through local equations for selection of candidates,” he said. Yadav also announced that the SP would contest the Lok Sabha polls where its organisation was strong. “We have a strong organisational base in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. We are also working in Uttarakhand and Rajasthan,” he said.
Discussing the defeat of his party in the 2017 assembly polls despite claims of good development, Yadav said the BJP had succeeded in fooling the people. “It was not our vote bank but that of the Bahujan Samaj Party that shifted… The people still remember my regime and are now realising their mistake.” He added that the people gave BJP a chance but the party had fulfilled none of its tall promises. “The Yogi Adityanath government has failed… They are just carrying forward our work by putting their plaques,” he alleged. In his view, the Adityanath government should demand a big package from the Centre in the budget instead of fooling the people. “Out of 80 seats, the state has given them 73 MPs (including that of Apna Dal). It’s high time the Yogi governent demands a big package from the Centre as Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be presenting his last budget next month. “After the budget, nothing can be done. If you don’t have funds, you can’t work,” he said. The former chief minister said he would be taking out a “rath yatra” across the state to mobilise party workers.
“The route and plan is being chalked out. I will be hitting the road again. People have expectations from us as SP is the only party which can stop the BJP.” Yadav also spoke on the issue of electronic voting machines (EVMs). “We demand that before the Lok Sabha polls, the two by-elections of Gorakhpur and Phulpur be held using ballot papers. Doubts about the machine should be cleared.” On the much touted UP investor summit, preparation for which is underway, Yadav taunted the government and said it should first purchase chairs for the venue, the JP international centre, which was constructed during his regime. “Will they ask delegate to sit on chairs borrowed from a tent house?” he asked.