The Congress on Sunday denied that it sent “political lightweights” for talks to strike an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) for Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly elections. Reacting to some media reports that the SP leadership was miffed to have found the likes of Prashant Kishor and Dhiraj Srivastava — who figure nowhere in the Congress decision making hierarchy — at the negotiating table, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said that the reports were “incorrect”.
“(It’s) wrong to suggest that lightweights were dealing on behalf of the Congress party. Discussion was at highest level between the UP Chief Minister, Congress’ General Secretary in-charge of UP and Priyanka Gandhi,” Patel tweeted. “I have not spoken to any leader from the Samajwadi Party. News reports mentioning this are incorrect,” he said.
According to media reports quoting sources close to Akhilesh Yadav, the SP was expecting some senior Congress leaders for the seat sharing talks, and Akhilesh felt slighted after not finding even a Congress Working Committee member on the table.
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The situation was reportedly salvaged after Sonia Gandhi intervened and spoke with Akhilesh Yadav over telephone. The SP and the Congress on Sunday formally announced to go to the polls together with the SP contesting 298 seats and the Congress 105.