Addressing a press conference in Dubai, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said his party will fight the elections in the state with full force. His statement came hours after the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party announced their alliance without the Congress in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Rahul Gandhi said he has "tremendous respect" for the leaders of the two parties and "they have a right to do what they want to do".
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"The BSP and SP have every right to have an alliance. I think the Congress party has tremendous amount to offer to the people of Uttar Pradesh so we will do our best as the Congress party and we will fight with full capacity to spread our ideology," the Congress president said.
"BSP and SP have made a political decision. It's on us on how to strengthen the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity," he said.
He said the Congress party might give a surprise or two in the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh "about what the party is capable of doing and to mobilise people."
Gandhi further refuted suggestions that not being part of the SP-BSP alliance was a setback for the Congress and said, "I won't be disappointed about the BSP-SP alliance as long as the BJP does not come to power."
"They have said some wrong things about the Congress, but we accept it. Because that's how we work,” he added.
Gandhi said it does not matter if his party fights separately or together with the SP and BSP, because the end result would be the same – “the BJP won’t get their seats.”
The Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party on Saturday announced their tie-up in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, sharing 38 seats each and keeping the Congress out of the alliance.
Commenting upon his "misogynist" remarks about Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on which he has been issued a notice by the NCW, Gandhi said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has helped Anil Ambani steal Rs 30,000 crore and the House of the people Lok Sabha is where he should have defended himself, but he chose to send another person and that person happened to be a woman.”
"I would have made a very similar comment if it had been a man. Do not impose your sexism on me. I am very clear that the prime minister should have delivered that defence, but he did not have the guts," he added.
The Congress chief attacked Modi government on rising intolerance and said like the UAE, which had declared 2019 as the 'Year of Tolerance', India also believes and celebrates tolerance but "there is a little bit of aberration going on in India where BJP is being very aggressive, intolerant and attacking and destroying our institutions."
Asked about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's overtures to start bilateral talks, Gandhi said, " I am all for peaceful relationship with Pakistan, but I will absolutely not tolerate violence being carried out on innocent Indians by the Pakistani State."
"You cannot carry out acts of terror in India and expect India to talk kindly to you," he said.