Congress headquarters in Lucknow experienced a chaotic moment soon after Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav announced the names of 208 candidates for the first two phases of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. State Congress president Raj Babbar, who reached the party office at around 2 pm yesterday from New Delhi was welcomed by party workers. As soon as Babbar arrived, a group of workers started chanting slogans such as ”Rahul Gandhi tera apman nahi sahenge” and ”Jo na hua baap ka… woh kya hoga aap ka.” Commenting on the move, Babbar said that the final call on SP-Congress alliance was yet to be taken and he had come to Lucknow to complete formalities for filing nomination forms.
Talking to media, Babbar further said that “The SP has released its list of candidates. Every party has the right to release its own list… I cannot say anything on the alliance, but workers’ respect is the party respect… and no talks are above the respect of party workers.” Speaking upon tie-ups with smaller parties like Peace Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal, Babbar said, “There are many parties in UP that appear small but are not so… it is the responsibility of all like-minded parties to come together to stop communal forces.”
In a report published by The Indian Express, the Congress high command had even asked Babbar to wait at Lucknow airport yesterday, in case he had to attend a meeting with Akhilesh for final talks on the alliance. He, however, left for Delhi in the evening. Meanwhile, Pankaj Mallik, Congress’s Shamli MLA from whose seat the SP has declared the candidature of Manish Chauhan, continued campaigning for himself. The Shamli seat is due for polls on February 11. “We have nothing to say (about the SP list) and will do what the party high command tells us,” Mallik said.
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However, the SP has given ticket to a sitting Congress MLA Mavia Ali from Deoband. Commenting on the same, Shashi Walia, Saharanpur district Congress president, said, “We will follow Rahul Gandhi’s decision, but it is a request from us workers that the party should think twice about offering tickets to outsiders like Mavia Ali, who are opportunists.”
“We were suspecting that he had been with SP for about a month… But with an alliance being on the cards, we did not think that Ali would quietly join the SP,” he added.