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Uttar Pradesh Election 2017: Akhilesh Yadav defends tie-up with Congress, hits out at BJP

Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav defended his decision of partnering with Congress ahead of assembly elections in the northern state. Scheduled to address six rallies on Thursday, Akhilesh also addressed a Jan Sabha in Muzaffarnagar, where he took on rival parties BJP and BSP.

Akhilesh, who is eyeing a second stint as chief minister, has partnered with Congress to consolidate the Muslim and upper caste votes.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

He admitted to being a little confused about a possible tie-up with Congress and said he was once unsure about which way the elections will swing, but is now confident of forming government in the state. According to a report in Dainik Bhaskar, Akhilesh said so while addressing a rally at SD Inter College in Muzaffarnagar.

Justifying the seat-sharing formula between the two parties, Akhilesh said that his party had a big heart and he is not stingy with sharing seats, according to Hindustan.

He has drawn flak within circles of his own party for being generous and allowing Congress to contest more seats, with many believing that the latter party, after a series of electoral losses in several states, is politically attenuated.

He also tried to play down father Mulayam Singh Yadav's criticism of the alliance, stating that if SP retains power in Uttar Pradesh, even if with the help of Congress, it will be a complement to Netaji's prestige.

Trying to woo voters in the politically important district in Western Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh promised to provide non-stop electricity in the power-starved state, according to ABP News.

The communally sensitive Muzaffarnagar is a political nerve point in western UP, and Samajwadi Party is desperate to woo the cleaving voter base of BSP and BJP. While on the one hand, veteran leaders have switched camps to join other parties, Jats, a sizeable majority in the state's western part, are miffed with the BJP after having voted for the saffron party in large numbers in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In a state that traditionally votes along caste lines, SP is desperate to consolidate voters still looking to change their allegiance.

This is Akhilesh Yadav's third visit to the communally sensitive district, one that saw large-scale anti-Muslim violence in 2013. Akhilesh had been chief minister while the riots had taken place, and had then visited the town on three more occasions — soon after the riots, and to condole the death of SP leader Chittaranjan Swaroop, who was a minister in the Akhilesh government.

Meanwhile, Akhilesh's Muzaffarnagar rally assumed importance in another sense as well, as it saw him targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party as a key opponent in the upcoming elections, using the dais to target the party, though he barely spoke about BSP, saying it has weakened following several leaders changing camps.

Even though he said that the BJP was out of the race in Uttar Pradesh, he countered the party's electoral key points. According to the report in Hindustan, he said that the BJP is promising the formation a palayan sena (a team to probe the alleged exodus from Kairana), it is looking to fight elections with the help of immigrants, referring to leaders who recently changed camps to join BJP. He also included Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the list, saying he first migrated from Gujarat to come to UP to gain a seat in Lok Sabha election, but then turned to Delhi.

Akhilesh also tried to corner BJP on the issue of demonetisation, saying many people lost their lives due to the long queues prompted by the note ban. He also said that the BJP did nothing to help the people, while adding that the party promised to bring black money back, but nothing has materialised so far.

Updated Date: Feb 02, 2017 16:12 PM

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