Once bitten, twice shy! Having tasted worst electoral defeat in Uttar Pradesh in partnership with top Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in last year’s assembly elections in the state, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has decided to go solo for now. Akhilesh’s decision comes at a time when Congress party is looking to wrest electoral control of the country from ruling BJP in 2019 General Elections. To make that happen, Congress would expectedly need powerful allies, especially in bigger states like Uttar Pradesh where Congress has grown weaker in the many decades.
Rahul, who became Congress president last month, has already started big preparations for 2019 General Elections. He is also expected to undertake a massive organisational change in the coming months.
Both Samajwadi Party and the Congress were reduced to 47 and 7 seats in UP Assembly respectively at the hands of the BJP that won a mammoth 312 out of 403 seats in the state.
Even after months of the humiliating defeat, Akhilesh had given no hint of breaking ties with Congress and ending the “UP ke Ladke” alliance. As Rahul’s ambition grows, it seems Akhilesh is concerned about his own position in the state as well as the country’s politics. “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),” the SP chief told PTI in an interview on Tuesday.
After getting hammered by the BJP in last elections, Akhilesh is wary of not giving away the remaining clout of Samajwadi Party to the Congress. Moreover, there is one more reason that may have further driven Akhilesh to decide against any tie-up with the Congress in future – in the last state assembly elections, Akhilesh had an upper hand as he was the elder partner on the basis of being the dominant partner in UP. However, in 2019, Congress would have had the upper hand if Akhilesh had continued in an alliance with Rahul Gandhi. Hence, Akhilesh said he was working on strengthening the party’s vote bank. “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.
Akhilesh declared that he was not for any alliance ahead of “crucial” 2019 general elections. He also termed the process of talks and seat negotiations a “waste of time”, the former UP chief minister, ruled out alliances “as of now”. During the assembly elections, both Congress and SP in news for days over seat sharing troubles.
The SP chief further announced his party would contest the Lok Sabha polls in other states where his organisation is strong. “We have a strong organisational base in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. We are also working in Uttarakhand and Rajasthan,” he was quoted as saying.
However, Akhilesh left a window for post-poll alliance open, suggesting the SP may bargain at a later stage if an alliance materialises but at present his priority was to strengthen the organisation of the party.