Amidst indications that SP leader and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is warming up to the idea of an alliance with Congress, UP PCC President Raj Babbar on Monday said his party will contest alone in the state and described such talks as “hypothetical”.
“Alliance talks in some way demoralises workers. I have no such information. The party leadership has not asked me to look for a tie up and it's not under consideration. This is hypothetical,” he said in an interview here.
Recently Akhilesh had said that his party was capable enough to get majority on its own but if there was an alliance with Congress, they would together get over 300 seats, triggering speculation of a pre-poll tieup.
Akhilesh's father and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has already ruled out any pre-poll alliance, asserting that there can only be mergers.
The Chief Minister, however, had 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”.
Asked about the issue, Babbar stressed that Congress will “contest UP polls alone” and the first list of the party candidates is likely to be released by the end of this month.
“The exercise of candidate selection is on…We have again asked for the prospective candidates list from district presidents,” he said.
To a question about the party's expected performance in 2017, he said, “The situation is changing in the state. Those who were considering Congress as zero are now talking about it. Various campaigns in past few months have succeeded in connecting with people and they are looking for an alternative”.
“There is anger among people against BJP, SP and BSP.
While BJP will be facing consequences of demonetisation, there is feud in SP and people did not have faith and trust on BSP due to its past record…The only alternative is Congress,” he said, adding that party will certainly be improving its tally in 2017 Assembly polls from 29 it got in 2012.
Babbar criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for cashless society, saying people of the country are not “plastic” but “emotional”.
“In the country where 90 per cent sector is unorganised people cannot be plastic rather they are emotional. They help each other due to emotions. BJP will have to suffer losses for what it has done creating problems for common man,” he said.
Asked why the aggressive campaign started by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi in UP has slowed down, Babbar said it was because of the Parliament session as the entire focus of the top leaders has shifted there.
“Important leaders of the state including PL Punia, Pramod Tiwari, Ghulam Nabi Azad have got busy in Parliament where burning issues are being raised. We have to focus there.
But soon we will again be concentrating in UP,” he said.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress had secured only two seats in UP with Sonia and Rahul emerging victorious from their family strongholds of Rae Bareli and Amethi respectively.
The party is trying to regain its lost moorings in the state where it currently has only 29 MLAs in the 403-member Assembly.
Congress has been in political wilderness in UP since 1989 following the emergence of Mandal-Mandir politics and rise of BSP which took away its crucial Dalit vote base.
Mayawati's party had also lured a large chunk of Brahmin votes in the past when candidates of the community were given tickets by her to contest elections.
The Brahmin community plays a significant role in poll outcome in central and eastern UP as it is the dominant caste there.
Once a traditional vote bank of the Congress, Brahmins in the state shifted allegiance to BJP in the aftermath of the emergence of Mandal-Mandir politics.
Perhaps, to keep Brahmins in good humour, the party is projecting former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial face.
In a bid to woo Hindu votes ahead of the Assembly polls in UP, Rahul Gandhi recently offered prayers at the Hanuman Garhi Temple in Ayodhya, becoming the first member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to visit Ayodhya since the demolition of the disputed structure in 1992.
Rahul recently completed 2,000 km kisan yatra in Uttar Pradesh to woo voters in favour of his party.