UP bypolls: Congress blames SP for ruining joint front against BJP

Allahabad: State Congress chief Raj Babbar on Friday accused Sawajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav for bungling a joint opposition front against the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha bypolls in Phulpur and Gorakhpur.

The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) chief, speaking to the media here on the sidelines of his whirlwind campaign trail, said his party right from the onset of the poll exercise wanted to join hands with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the SP, but due to the stubborn attitude of the former Chief Minister, this could not materialise.

The actor-turned-politician said: “We would have been better placed and snatched both the seats from the incumbent BJP had we come together and fielded joint-opposition candidates. But it has not happened because of Akhilesh Yadav.”

The BSP, too, he said did not initially show interest in the efforts of the Congress to bring everyone on one platform against the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Babbar also claimed that to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 General Elections, all secular parties will have to come together and fight unitedly, “otherwise defeating the BJP would not be easy”.

The BSP, burying its 25-year-old bitter rivalry with the SP, has extended its support to the SP nominees on both seats but the Congress is going it alone.

Both the seats are crucial for the ruling BJP as they were formerly held by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (Gorakhpur) and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya (Phulpur).

The Congress and SP had fought the 2017 state assembly elections in an alliance but to disastrous results.

While the SP was voted out of power and its tally slipped to 47 from 224 in the 2017 assembly polls, the Congress could win only seven seats.