New Delhi, Jan 11: With indications that the Congress may not be part of the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the party is preparing to contest all the 80 constituencies on its own and party chief Rahul Gandhi is slated to undertake a vigorous campaign in the state.
Gandhi is slated to address 10 public meetings in Uttar Pradesh in February and is slated to make more frequent visits to the state in the run up to the polls in a bid to boost the party’s prospects.
“He (Gandhi) will address 10 public meetings in the state in February,” party leader P. L. Punia told IANS.
He said Gandhi would be in the state “every third day” next month.
Punia said the Congress was open to be part of an alliance with the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party to defeat the BJP but “we are fighting on our own in any case”.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav are slated to hold a joint press conference in Lucknow on Saturday and are likely to announce the seat sharing formula between the two parties.
The two parties are learnt to have reached an understanding to share 37 seats each and leave two for Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). The alliance might also leave two seats – Amethi and Rae Bareli for the Congress. While Amethi is represented by Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi represents Rae Bareli.
These were the only two seats the Congress won in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which the BSP drew a blank and the SP managed to win five seats. The BJP swept 71 seats while its ally Apna Dal got two seats in a four-way contest.
In 2009, the Congress had won 22 Lok Sabha seats in UP but has been on the decline since then.
In an interview earlier this week, Gandhi had said that his party will be a strong force in Uttar Pradesh.
“The Congress idea is very powerful for Uttar Pradesh. So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people… I just want to say again that (to) underestimate the Congress in UP is a mistake,” he had said.
Gandhi has also talked about the party’s willingness to form a larger grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
“We are trying to bring opposition together… UP is work in progress. I have heard some statements in the media but we are going to work together and make sure that we defeat Mr Modi,” he had said.