In an indication that opposition parties are yet to make up their mind over accepting Rahul Gandhi as their PM candidate for 2019 general elections, Samajwadi Party chief and former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday avoided a direct reply when asked whether his party would support the Congress president as prime minister.
“The country wants to see a new government at the Centre. People want to see a new prime minister. You will see a new prime minister after the elections,” he said when asked whether he saw himself or the Congress president as the next prime minister.
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Asked specifically if his party would support Rahul Gandhi for the PM’s post—if a non-BJP coalition gets the chance to form a government after the 2019 elections—Yadav, speaking at a press conference in Bhopal, repeated his reply.
He, however, noted that during the recent bye-elections in Kairana and elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress supported the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
“Whenever the Congress people talk, they talk very sweetly,” he quipped.
On the possibility of an SP-BSP alliance for next year’s general election, Yadav said, “You will soon learn about a (new) coalition.”
“The BJP has formed a coalition with 47 political parties at the Centre. We are also in favour of a coalition,” he said.
The BJP won the last assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, in which his government was ousted, by “dividing society on the basis of caste and religion,” he alleged.
He enjoyed good relations with BSP supremo Mayawati, Yadav said, adding that the SP was with “all the forces which are fighting for social justice”.
He parried a question on his party’s stand on the triple talaq bill in Parliament. “You will come to know our stand whenever the bill comes up for discussion,” the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said.
Talking about the Union government’s Ganga clean-up drive, Yadav said the BJP had “deceived” the holy river, which is now more polluted than ever.
The river cannot be cleaned unless its tributaries are cleaned up, he said.
The BJP was publicising development projects carried out by the SP government in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
“The prime minister is inaugurating schemes and development works executed by the SP government,” Yadav said.
He also alleged that the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh had cheated farmers with “a false promise of farm loan waiver”.