“Congress should make it clear about alliance with SP”: Akhilesh Yadav

Debjit Mukherjee: The Congress should not “betray” the Samajwadi Party and should make it clear if they want an alliance or not, SP president Akhilesh Yadav said on Saturday, amid a spat between the two INDIA bloc allies over their failure to arrive at a seat-sharing arrangement for the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls. He, however, hinted the Congress leadership has approached him over the issue.

“I received a message from someone through the seniormost leader of the Congress party. If he is saying something, I will have to follow. He gave some message,” Yadav said, without revealing any name or explaining further. “But one thing I want to say is: why did they call us if they did not want an alliance?”

This came a day after the SP chief had said his party leaders wouldn’t have answered calls from the Congress for a meeting in Madhya Pradesh had he known that the INDIA bloc was confined to the national level.

Speaking to reporter here on the sidelines of a party function on Saturday, Yadav said the Congress party should “tell us if they want to have an alliance or not”.

“Do not conspire against us, don’t betray us. They should tell us straight that they don’t need Samajwadis. I promise you that we will not talk about alliance even once and will begin preparation to defeat the BJP on our own,” he said.

“If there were to be no alliance why were we called? They should have told us that there will be no alliance at the state level and the alliance will be formed in the Lok Sabha election,” Yadav added.

On Thursday also, Yadav had expressed unhappiness over the Congress not allocating any seat to the SP despite talks on seat-sharing in MP and suggested that the Congress could get the same treatment from his party in Uttar Pradesh.

The SP chief had said his party leaders wouldn’t have answered calls from the Congress for a meeting in Madhya Pradesh had he known that the INDIA alliance was confined to the national level. “I must have got confused,” he had told reporters.

Hitting back, Uttar Pradesh Congress president Ajay Rai said on Friday that Yadav cannot blame the Congress as the SP released its list of candidates before his party and was benefitting the BJP by contesting separately.

However, the SP president reiterated that the INDIA bloc should have clarified that there would be no tie-up in the state elections.

The Samajwadi Party announced its third list of two candidates on Thursday night. With this, it has announced 33 candidates for the November 17 polls to the 230-member assembly in the BJP-ruled state. The Congress has announced its candidates for 229 seats.

According to insiders from both parties, the Congress had agreed to leave six seats for the SP in MP but the arrangement did not materialise.

The INDIA grouping came into being primarily to put up a united front against the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took a dig at the INDIA bloc after its constituents fielded candidates against each other in assembly polls, saying the opposition grouping is driven by the motto of “friendship in Delhi and wrestling in states”.