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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Heartland deal for Congress and Samajwadi Party, Priyanka-Akhilesh talks lead to breakthrough in UP

The Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, Avinash Pandey, said here at a joint news conference on Wednesday evening that the party would contest 17 of the state’s 80 seats in the Lok Sabha polls as part of the deal

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 22.02.24, 04:54 AM
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Akhilesh Yadav.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Akhilesh Yadav. File picture

INDIA appears safe in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) have finally agreed to contest together in the state which sends the maximum number of members to Parliament.

The Congress general secretary in charge of UP, Avinash Pandey, said here at a joint news conference on Wednesday evening that the party would contest 17 of the state’s 80 seats as part of the deal.

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“I thank the senior leaders of the Congress and the SP for giving the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) a concrete shape in the heartland state. I especially thank our leader Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, whose concerted efforts helped in making this alliance a reality in UP,” Pandey said.

UP Congress president Ajay Rai, SP secretary Rajendra Chaudhary and Samajwadi state president Naresh Uttam were present at the hurriedly called media conference in a hotel here.

“The Congress will contest 17 seats in UP and leave the remaining 63 for the SP to decide how to incorporate other allies. There are many small parties which are part of INDIA and our leaders will discuss with them other alliance-related issues”, Pandey added.

Uttam read out the list of the seats on which the Congress will contest. They are Rae Bareli, Amethi, Kanpur Nagar, Fatehpur Sikri, Saharanpur, Allahabad, Maharajganj, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Mathura, Sitapur, Barabanki, Deoria, Varanasi, Amroha, Jhansi and Bansgaon.

Of these, the Congress only holds Rae Bareli currently. Sonia Gandhi, who won Rae Bareli in 2019, has chosen to go to the Rajya Sabha, leaving Rae Bareli for a successor Congress contestant.

Uttam said they had also agreed that the SP would contest on the Khajuraho Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh and support Congress candidates on the remaining 28 seats in the state.

Chaudhary said the SP would withdraw their candidate for the Varanasi seat and support whoever the Congress nominates. The SP had issued three lists of about 40 candidates in the last few days.

Akhilesh had promised last week that he would join Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra on its arrival in Rae Bareli on February 20 but backtracked at the eleventh hour.

However, Pandey said: “Rahul’s Yatra is still going on in UP and Akhilesh may join it somewhere.”

A source in the SP claimed that Akhilesh agreed to the alliance after an hour-long telephone conversation with Priyanka during the day.

“They discussed the seats which were a bone of contention. Priyanka agreed to withdraw the Congress’s claim over Shravasti and Moradabad constituencies and Akhilesh agreed to give 17 seats to the Congress, including Varanasi,” said an SP leader who didn’t want to be named.

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