Alliance under stress as Akhilesh now accuses Cong of betrayal
Yadav also threatened that he will mete out a “tit-for-tat” response to the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, where the SP is the far stronger partner
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the Congress, accusing two senior leaders of the national party of betrayal in seat-sharing arrangements for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh polls in what was the clearest sign yet of widening fault lines between some members of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).
Yadav also threatened that he will mete out a “tit-for-tat” response to the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, where the SP is the far stronger partner. Tensions have been rising between the two parties after the Congress declared its first list of 144 candidates in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, hours after the SP declared its first list of nine candidates for the state.
Speaking to reporters in Sitapur, Yadav said if he had known that the INDIA grouping was only a national-level formation, he would not have sent his leaders to meet senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh.
“We would have not given them the list and would have not picked the phone calls of Congress leaders. They betrayed us. Are they making fools of us?” he said. “Why Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh kept us engaged in meetings? The Congress leaders are in a nexus with the BJP.”
The SP – which won one of the state’s 230 seats in 2018 – has declared 32 candidates till now. The Congress is hoping to dislodge the BJP in the heartland state in assembly polls scheduled for November 17.
“If the alliance in Uttar Pradesh is only for the Centre (Lok Sabha polls), then we will think it over when time comes. But remember, there will be tit-for-tat. They will get the same treatment from us as we are given by them,” he said.
In his allegations, Yadav named state Congress chief Kamal Nath and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, “One of them is the former chief minister. The other had been the former chief minister several times. I sent SP leaders to them after talks with them. Our delegation of leaders shared the complete statistics of the SP performance in the previous MP elections -- which seats we had won in the past, where we were number 2. They kept the meeting on till 1 am and kept our leaders awake. They assured us that they would consider six seats for us, but when the Congress list came, there was zero for the SP. They betrayed us,” he said.
He also hit out at UP Congress chief Ajay Rai, who had said on Wednesday that if the Congress had fought Ghosi, they (SP) might have lost the seat.
Yadav called him a “chirkut (petty person)”.
“The state chief has no authority. He is inconsequential. He was not there in the meeting held at Patna, Mumbai. What does he know about the INDIA alliance?... These people from Congress are siding with or involved with the BJP,” Yadav said.
“It is my appeal to the top leadership of the Congress that stop such petty leaders issuing statements on the Samajwadi Party,” he said.
The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or INDIA is an opposition front announced by the leaders of 28 parties to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. It came into existence on April 23 this year at a meeting of sixteen opposition parties’ leaders in Patna, and then the name INDIA was announced at the second meeting of 26 parties during the bloc’s second meeting on July 17 and 18 in Bengaluru. The third meeting of the bloc was held in Mumbai, Maharashtra between August 31 and September 1. Akhilesh Yadav attended all the three meetings.
On Tuesday, Akhilesh Yadav hit out at the Congress for the first time since the formation of INDIA, and asked the party to clarify whether the alliance was at the national or state level. He also said that his party would contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP in the 2024 polls.
Samajwadi Party and Congress came together in a pre-poll alliance in the 2017 UP assembly polls. Samajwadi Party could win only 47 seats against its score of 224 of 2012 and lost power to the BJP. Congress won only 7 seats. BJP won 312.
The Congress hit back, with Rai saying that his party will defeat the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, and asked Yadav to clarify who he wanted to help by declaring his candidates.
Former UP minister and the Madhya Pradesh assembly poll in-charge of the Samajwadi Party, Vyasji Gond, said: “The developments and betrayal speak volumes about the Congress’s character. The SP is likely to field candidates on all 230 seats in MP.”