New Delhi, January 17

Congress announced on Tuesday an alliance with the Samajwadi Party for the February-March assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The national party has been relegated to the state’s political margins after being voted out of power in 1989, while the SP has by and large split with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on one side and his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, on the other. The Congress’s internal assessment is “not so encouraging” in case it runs alone.

Mulayam had proposed a grand alliance for the UP polls, although he had walked out of a similar coalition between the Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress in Bihar ahead of elections there in 2015. He was unhappy with the number of seats given to his party to contest in Bihar.

The buzz grew after Akhilesh surprised everyone in September, praising the 46-year-old Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as a “good human being”.

For his part, Gandhi dropped broad hints of a tie-up when a party functionary asked him at Congress convention about the UP polls. “UP mein majaa aayega (It will be fun in UP),” he said.

The Akhilesh faction views the “secular and socialist” alliance a way to beat anti-incumbency in India’s most populous and politically crucial state. The family battle has only strengthened the chief minister’s image, positioning him as a major challenger to the BJP and BSP’s quest for power, the group believes.


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