Akhilesh Yadav not averse to alliance with Congress in UP Assembly polls

New Delhi: Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today appeared not averse to an alliance with Congress for UP Assembly polls, saying such a combine can win over 300 seats in the 403-member House, but firmly ruled out any tie-up with BSP.

Only last month, Samajwadi Party supremo and Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav had ruled out any pre-poll alliance and asserted that there can only be mergers.

Replying to a volley of questions on a possible tie-up with Congress against the backdrop of its poll strategist Prashant Kishor meeting Mulayam and and himself later, the Chief Minister said that a final decision on the alliance will be taken by the SP supremo and he can only give suggestions.

Akhilesh also suggested that Congress will have to accept that it may have to fight on a fewer number of seats than it wants in an alliance because a tie-up will not work out if it keeps thinking about “profit and loss”.

He also hit back at BSP chief Mayawati, who had recently mocked him for calling her ‘bua’, saying her problem is that BSP is not in contention to capture power and added that he will no longer call her ‘bua’ (father’s sister).

Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit here, Akhilesh (43) attacked the Modi government over demonetization and took potshots at his rivals, including Amar Singh, within SP. “It is a big dream,” he quipped when asked if Amar Singh was also a contender for the Chief Minister’s post.

He, however, asserted that the murky infighting that put his uncle Shivpal Yadav against him is behind him and he, “like Arjun is focusing on one goal, which is to form government in the state again”.

It is for Congress, which has projected Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate, to take a final decision on an alliance, he said, adding that Kishor had met him after meeting Mulayam.

“When there is an alliance, somebody has to accept that he will get fewer number of seats (to contest). If you keep thinking about profit and loss, then it will not work out. We are anyway going to form government again with a majority and if they (Congress) also come along, then we will cross 300,” he said.

Akhilesh said that he conveyed this to Kishor too. “It (UP polls) is a big battle. If the ally is good, then we can sort out other parties,” the Chief Minister said, though he ruled out any alliance with BSP which, he noted, had formed government with BJP three times earlier and Mayawati “used to tie” Rakhi to some BJP leaders.

Attacking the central government, he said it has made everybody stand in queue and wondered if this was the ‘achhe din’ for which people had voted for Narendra Modi.

“It has harmed the economy,” he said.

Attacking BJP and BSP, SP’s main rivals in UP, Akhilesh Yadav said one of them has made life difficult for people and forced them to break their piggy banks, a reference to demonetization, while another does not believe in speaking out.

His referring to Mayawati as ‘bua’ was not about personal but political relationship as people much senior to him in politics called her ‘Behen ji’, he said.

“I gave her more respect but she has not accepted it. I will no longer call her ‘bua’,” he said.

Asked about his bitter fight with ‘chacha’ Shivpal Yadav, the UP Chief Minister quipped that there should be talk about “uncle”, a reference to Amar Singh, too.

Without naming him, Akhilesh said Mulayam had brought him in party to strengthen it and his “language and behaviour should be in a manner that helps SP form the government again.”

Asked if he wanted to sack Amar Singh from the party, he said, “If I had been state president of the party, I would have made a proposal and sent to neta ji (Mualayam).”

He, however, did not elaborate on this. Akhilesh was the state president before he was replaced by Shivpal.

Apparently attacking Amar Singh, he said “if somebody brings a type-writer from outside” so that the decision of his removal could be faxed to him, then he will not accept it.

To a question if he wanted to form his own party, he said “in politics, you should sack those from the party who want to sack you. This is our party.”

Responding to BJP’s barb that demonetization had harmed SP as the alleged illicit money kept by it for the polls is no longer useful, he said the decision will help his party as leaders and workers of other outfits will be forced to use cycle, SP’s election symbol. A grand alliance like Bihar is not possible in UP, he added.

Asked about differences between him and his father, he responded in lighter vein that he was a footballer while Mulayam was a wrestler.

He, however, insisted that all the infighting in his party had not made any impact on his government’s performance and cited the Metro work in Lucknow and Luchnow-Agra expressway as evidence.

He also supported West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over her attack on the central government, saying if anything happens in a state, the Chief Minister should be informed.