Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has made it clear to the Samajwadi Party that he is willing to consider an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming state polls – if Akhilesh Yadav is given full command of the party. According to a report in India Today, Rahul conveyed to the top Samajwadi Party leadership that the Congress will support the formation of a Grand Alliance in UP if it agrees by consensus upon Akhilesh Yadav as the CM candidate.
Congress' poll strategist Prashant Kishor on Tuesday held a two-hour meeting with Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is trying to cobble together an alliance of like-minded parties ahead of the polls. Kishor, along with SP leader Amar Singh, met Yadav at his Delhi residence this evening, apparently to discuss the possibility of an alliance before the poll dates are announced.
Sources close to the development confirmed that Kishor met Yadav. There was talk in political circles that Yadav spoke with JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also in Delhi. However, there was no immediate confirmation. Kishor had managed Nitish Kumar's successful assembly poll campaign last year. Last week, Mulayam's younger brother and state SP chief Shivpal Singh had met JD(U)'s K C Tyagi and RLD chief Ajit Singh to invite them to SP's 25th anniversary in Lucknow on November 5. Shivpal had said Lohiaites and followers of Charan Singh should join hands to beat BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
Samajwadi Party, which was initially part of Bihar's grand alliance, had walked out of it after it was offered only a handful of seats to contest the assembly elections there. The grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress had, however, scripted a glorious electoral victory, defeating the BJP-led NDA. Shivpal had recently blamed his estranged cousin Ram Gopal Yadav for Samajwadi Party's decision to walk out of the alliance in Bihar.
Ram Gopal, a Rajya Sabha member, has been backing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in his fight against Shivpal. Ram Gopal was recently sacked from the party amid escalating tension between the rival camps. Given the unusual belligerence shown by Akhilesh Yadav, the party apparently wants to fortify its position by bringing in new friends. The SP's main aim in the polls is prevent split of Muslim votes for which it is looking for an alliance with secular parties.