Reacting for the first time since Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Saturday announced their alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the party has a “tremendous respect” for the leaders of BSP and SP, and “they have a right to do what they want to do”. Addressing a joint press conference with Mayawati in Lucknow, Akhilesh Yadav said the alliance was necessary to defeat the arrogant BJP and rid the state from the saffron party's "religion and caste politics". Both Akhilesh’s SP and Mayawati’s BSP will contest 38 seats each.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Dubai: BSP and SP have made a political decision. It's on us on how to strengthen the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity. https://t.co/gNxJ5kxpGw— ANI (@ANI) January 12, 2019
“The Congress party has tremendous to offer to the people of Uttar Pradesh. I have tremendous respect for the leaders of BSP and SP, they have a right to do what they want to do,” Gandhi in Dubai.“The BSP and SP have made a political decision. It's on us on how to strengthen the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity,” Gandhi, who is in Dubai, said.
Akhilesh said the SP and the BSP are now together and any insult to Mayawati will be his also. “I want to say to BJP that they should know that we (SP-BSP) are in this together. I am grateful to Mayawati for giving me equal status. They should know any insult to Mayawati is my insult,” he said.
Speaking about shutting the alliance door for the Congress, Mayawati said that they have decided to leave the Congress out of the SP-BSP fold since there was no real gain by allying with the Grand Old Party as its vote is not transferrable. However, she said, two Lok Sabha seats – Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi and Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli – have been left for the Congress party.
"We won't gain anything by including Congress in our alliance. Both BSP and SP have experienced in the past that Congress's vote is not transferrable," the BSP chief said adding that the SP-BSP alliance will give sleepless nights to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
The BSP supremo said that there was not much difference between the Congress and the BJP and their policies are same. “It is because of the policies of the Congress that parties like ours came into existence. Whether it is the Congress or the BJP that comes to power, it's the same thing,” she said.
This is not the first time the two parties have joined hands but the alliance of SP-BSP, once the sworn enemies, came together 26 years after then Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram tied up in 1993. However, their acrimonious alliance could not last long and their government in Uttar Pradesh collapsed.
Speaking on the on the ties with Pakistan, Gandhi said: “I am all for a peaceful relationship with Pakistan, but, I will absolutely not tolerate violence being carried out on innocent Indians by the Pakistani state.
The Congress president also slammed the RSS, saying the organisation thinks that the voice of the people is irrelevant. "One of the reasons why we will win 2019 elections is because there is a massive response coming from bureaucrats and institutions saying we are not going to accept this," Gandhi said.