UP Congress Chief Avinash Pande


INDIA bloc very much wanted the BSP to join, he said.

New Delhi/Prayagraj:

INDIA bloc’s doors are “open” for the BSP and it is up to Mayawati to decide if she wants to join the united fight against the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls or not, Congress’ Uttar Pradesh in-charge Avinash Pande said on Sunday.

The Congress general secretary said the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) very much wanted the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to join the bloc but Mayawati has already declared that she will go it alone in the Lok Sabha polls.

In an interview with PTI during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, Pande said the Congress is “wholeheartedly” supporting the Samajwadi Party and expressed confidence that a seat-sharing deal for the Lok Sabha polls in the state will be finalised “very soon” with remaining “confusions” dispelled.

He said the Congress-SP combine is in talks with small parties in Uttar Pradesh who would also be joining the INDIA bloc to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, and asserted that everything will be sorted out by the end of this month.

“Some of them are joining unconditionally and some have some expectations and therefore it is taking a little time (for finalising the seat-sharing in UP) but everything will be sorted out by the end of this month,” he said.

On the seat-sharing talks with the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP, Pande said it is very much on positive lines and is in progress.

“When you go into a coalition you have to negotiate and rationalise who will be the best candidate who will give proper fight to the BJP. So we are analysing that and I am very much hopeful that very shortly the seat-sharing formula will be finalised,” he told PTI.

The Congress general secretary termed the exit of the Jayant Chaudhary-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) from the INDIA bloc as “very unfortunate” but exuded confidence that with the yatra also going through western Uttar Pradesh later this month, the opposition bloc would draw people’s support from there.

Pointing out that a recalibration was needed in seat sharing after the RLD’s exit, Pande said, “Whatever discussion we’ve had so far, definitely there will be some changes now to realign the whole thing and that is why it is taking some time but very soon we will come out jointly with the list of candidates.” 

Asked whether the BSP could still join the alliance in the future, Pande said, “INDIA bloc very much wanted the BSP to join this bloc but as you know Mayawati ji has already declared she will go it alone. It is up to her to join the INDIA bloc or not but the INDIA bloc’s doors are open for Mayawati ji if she wants she can very well join to fight the BJP unitedly.” 

On Sonia Gandhi announcing that she will not contest the Lok Sabha elections this time, he said she is still the pillar of the party and nothing has changed by her announcement.

“As you must have read in her letter in which she has very categorically mentioned that she is very much part of UP and Raebareli and Amethi and she will continue to support as the family head, she will give the same kind of guidance to the people as she feels Raebareli is her home,” Pande said.

He said the Congress workers and leaders want any of the Gandhi family members should contest from Amethi and Raebareli.

Asked if Priyanka Gandhi could contest from Raebareli, he said, “She is most welcome and that is what everyone is looking for but the decision is for Priyanka ji and Rahul ji to take (to contest from Raebareli and Amethi).” But one has to consider the emotions and attachments and expectations of the people of Uttar Pradesh, he added.

Everyone wants both the seats to be contested by the Gandhi family and “we are confident that they will take an appropriate decision”, Pande said.

He said INDIA bloc partners have shown willingness and given their consent to join the yatra in Uttar Pradesh at various places according to their convenience.

“Akhilesh ji, in public and in personal conversations also, has welcomed the yatra in Uttar Pradesh and most probably in Amethi-Rae Bareli meetings, he will join,” Pande said.

On Yadav earlier mentioning 11 seats for the Congress in a post on X, the Congress general secretary said, “So far no numbers have been finalised. We are wholeheartedly supporting SP and Akhilesh ji… Congress feels it can confidently give a good fight and win on certain seats. Only there are some confusions which will be cleared.” “Whether it is a Congress candidate or a Samajwadi or anyone who is contesting on behalf of the INDIA bloc, we will be supporting that candidate wholeheartedly and will ensure the defeat of the BJP,” Pande said.

Talking about the Congress’ poll preparations, he said the party is fully prepared with a five-layered organisation in the state.

“One thing is very clear that the mood and sentiments of the people, not just in UP but also from wherever this yatra has passed, have been changing and they want to save the democracy and Constitution of the country,” Pande said.

“Definitely in Uttar Pradesh, we are expecting a great boost and people from all corners of the society are joining this yatra. This yatra will improve the overall political situation not only in the state but all over the country.

People are bound to think about the causes for which Rahul Gandhi is fighting,” he said.

The yatra has boosted the morale of not only the workers but also the common people for whom this march is being undertaken, he said. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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