Snubbed by the SP and BSP who have joined hands in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Sunday said it will contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state but insisted that its doors were open for secular parties willing to defeat the BJP.
A day after arch rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) announced an alliance, Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party not being a part of the alliance was a blessing in disguise as it will get to contest all the seats in the state.
“Our party is rather happy… Had there been an alliance we would have to be contend with 25-30 seats. But now we will be contesting in all the seats. We are all prepared and will contest in all the 80 seats,” Azad told the media here.
“We are ready to contest all the 80 seats but if there are any secular party or parties whom we find competent to join us in our fight against the BJP, we are ready to accommodate them. We welcome such party or parties and we will agree for seat sharing,” he said.
Talking about the SP-BSP dumping the Congress, Azad said: “The Congress is the only party that can uproot the Modi government and defeat the BJP. We wanted all secular parties to join our fight against the BJP.
“But if someone does not want to walk with us, it is their choice, we cannot do anything,” he said.
On the SP-BSP combine leaving out Amethi and Rae Bareli — constituencies held by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi respectively — Azad said that both the parties earlier too did not contest on the two seats.
“This is not a fight for a state, the fight is for Parliament,” said Azad, while remaining evasive about a post-poll alliance.
The Congress leader spoke after a meeting at the party’s state headquarters here.
“We had earlier also said that we are ready to walk with every party that wants to defeat the BJP. But we can’t force anyone. They have (SP-BSP) closed this chapter, so we will continue this fight to defeat the BJP on our own,” he said.
“For the last 3-4 years we have been talking about secular parties joining hands against the BJP. Some of them like N. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP (Telugu Desam Party) has come on its own. So whether we are talking with some parties for an alliance or not, that is not something to be informed in a press conference,” said Azad, on being asked if the Congress was in talks with other parties for stictching a grand alliance in the Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress also refused to comment on the Prime Ministerial face, saying the battle was first about defeating the BJP.
On Saturday, the BSP and SP, burying a quarter century of animosity, announced they will fight the Lok Sabha polls jointly in Uttar Pradesh — 38 seats each. Apart from Amethi and Rae Bareli, they are expected to accommodate the RLD in two seats in western Uttar Pradesh.
In 2014, the BJP swept 71 of the 80 seats while an ally won two more seats. The Congress won only from Amethi and Rae Bareli while the BSP drew a blank. The Samajwadi Party got five seats.