New Delhi: Unmoved by the drubbing it faced in the Uttar Pradesh bypolls last week, Congress leaders say the party will contest the upcoming assembly elections solo and not as part of any alliance.
Of the seven seats in the state that went to bypolls on 10 November, the Congress failed to win any of the six it contested. It even lost its deposit on four. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won six while the Samajwadi Party (SP) won one — Malhani.
Later in the week, former UP chief minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said doors are open for an alliance with smaller parties in the 2022 state elections, but ruled out the possibility of trying up with bigger parties.
“Adjustment will be done with smaller parties, but there will be no alliance with larger parties,” Yadav said at a press conference. While he did not explicitly mention any party, his statement was seen hinting at the Congress and Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party.
However, multiple Congress office-bearers in UP said Yadav’s statement won’t have any bearing as the party has already decided to go it alone in the assembly elections.
‘We are putting up a fight’
Speaking about the bypolls performance, UP Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu said the party has grown its vote share even if it didn’t win any seat.
“We came number two on two seats, where BSP came on third. So we are putting up a fight, and we plan on building on it in the assembly polls,” Lallu told ThePrint.
Of the six seats the party contested in the bypolls, it came second on two — Bangarmau and Ghatampur. It also lost its deposit on the other four.
While Lallu refused to comment on Yadav’s statement, UP Congress general secretary Rakesh Sachan said the party plans to contest the 2022 assembly elections alone.
“We have no plans on approaching any party for an alliance. We will contest the 2022 elections alone, under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi ji,” Sachan said.
“The results show that the people are warming up to Congress to a certain extent. Once Priyanka ji hits the field in campaigning, the people of UP will open their hearts to us,” he added.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is the party’s general secretary in-charge of UP, did not campaign in any of the seats ahead of the bypolls. This came even as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of the BJP campaigned in every constituency, for each of BJP’s candidates.
Priyanka hasn’t been to the party’s state headquarters in Lucknow since December 2019, and has visited the state only twice since then — once in February to meet activists injured in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in Azamgarh, and once in October to meet the family of the Dalit woman allegedly gang-raped and murdered in Hathras.
“His (Yadav’s) statement holds no bearing. We are not in touch with any smaller or bigger party for an alliance. We will anyway fight the elections solo,” said Badruddin Qureshi, another state Congress general secretary.
The Congress currently has seven MLAs in the 403-member UP assembly. The SP has 49, while the BSP has 18 members.