Having learnt hard lessons from the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has decided not to get into an alliance for the 2019 General Elections.
Having learnt hard lessons from the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has decided not to get into an alliance for the 2019 General Elections and use the time until then to strengthen his party in Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh had fought Assembly elections in an alliance with Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party but they were hammered by the BJP. Both Samajwadi Party and the Congress were reduced to 47 and 7 seats in UP Assembly respectively at the hands of the BJP, which won a mammoth 312 out of 403 seats in the state.
Akhilesh’s decision may have come as a blow for the Congress party, which is apparently looking for a grand “secular” alliance of all opposition parties to take on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah-led BJP in 2019. Congress president Rahul Gandhi is confident of taking back electoral control of the country from ruling BJP in 2019. However, if Akhilesh fights alone in UP, things may get difficult for the Congress as the party is already not very strong in the state. Rahul, who became Congress president in December, has already started preparations for 2019 General Elections. He has also announced to make Congress undergo a massive organisational change in the coming months.
Akhilesh Yadav’s decision is surprising as even after months of the humiliating defeat in Uttar Pradesh last year, the SP president had not given any hint of breaking ties with the Congress and ending the “UP ke Ladke” alliance. As Rahul’s ambition grows, it seems Akhilesh is concerned about his own situation in the state. “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.
Akhilesh is apparently wary of not sharing the remaining clout of Samajwadi Party in the state 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 the upper hand if Akhilesh remains 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 now firmly thinks that alliance talks are “waste of time”.
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, the Samajwadi president has 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.