Gearing up to corner Modi government in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Samajwadi party and Bahujan Samaj Party announced their tie-up in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, while keeping Congress out of the pact.
Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party will be sharing 38 seats each in the state. They also left two seats out of the 80 in the state for smaller allies, without naming them but there have been talks with Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal.
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While Congress has not been included in the alliance, Rahul Gandhi accepted the decision as a political one, while resolving that his party will fight with full capacity.
"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", the Congress President said on Saturday.
Explaining why the Congress was not included in the alliance, Mayawati said during that party’s rule over the years, poverty, unemployment and corruption grew and there were scams in defence deals.
"Just as the Bofors scam uprooted the Congress, the BJP will witness the same fate because of its involvement in the Rafale scam," she said, referring to the graft allegations against the ruling party in a deal for French military aircraft.
She also said her party has not benefitted in seat-sharing pacts with the Congress.
"In the past I have seen that our votes get transferred to the Congress, but not vice-versa. We do not gain from an alliance with the Congress, whereas the vote transfer is perfect in an SP-BSP tie-up," Mayawati said.
Drawing a parallel between the BJP and the Congress, the BSP chief said the Congress had imposed Emergency while the BJP is responsible for an undeclared Emergency.
Mayawati accused the BJP of spending a massive amount of money on Shivpal Yadav, saying his recently floated Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia was being "run by the BJP.
"The money will go down the drain," she said, even as Shivpal Yadav, the estranged uncle of Akhilesh Yadav, rejected her allegation later in the day.
Mayawati said in the national interest, she had moved passed the 1995 Lucknow guest house incident, in which some SP supporters had attacked her. The last state-level alliance between the two parties had ended around that time.
Yadav asked SP workers to ensure Mayawati gets the respect due to her.
"Mayawati's respect is my respect. An insult to her is an insult to me. If any BJP men or others say anything against her, it will be against me," Yadav said, seeming to warn against a repeat of the 1995 incident.
He asked party workers to be on guard against the BJP, alleging that the party could orchestrate riots and create differences between the two opposition parties.
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee welcomed the SP-BSP alliance.
In Varanasi, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram hoped the Lucknow announcement wasn’t the last word and a broad-based alliance would be formed in the state as polls approach. But he also asserted the Congress was ready to fight alone.
(With PTI inputs)