Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said his party’s primary aim in Uttar Pradesh is to defeat the BJP and where it does not have a strong candidate, it is giving help to the SP or BSP.
Gandhi’s remarks echoed the views of his sister and party general secretary in-charge eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who had said on Wednesday that her party has fielded candidates either with prospects of victory or having potential to damage the BJP’s chances.
“It is pretty clear that in UP a secular formation is going to win, there are no questions about it. Whether it is BSP, SP, or Congress, a secular formation is winning,” Rahul Gandhi said in an interview to NDTV in Rajasthan’s Chomu.
Asked if the Congress was dividing the anti-BJP vote in the state, he said: “No, where we do not have a strong candidate, we are giving help to the SP or BSP. We are going to harm the BJP. Where we have solid candidates, we are in our space.”
The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP), Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal are in an alliance in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats.
The Congress chief said he has told his sister and Congress general secretary in-charge UP (West) Jyotiraditya Scindia that the primary aim in UP is to defeat the BJP.
“In the places where we are not going to win the elections, let’s support the gathbandhan. And the gathbandhan and Congress party are going to clean UP up,” he asserted.
“Well obviously in the UP context, Congress is a threat to Mayawati and Mulayam Singh. But as far as I am concerned I am extremely respectful of Mayawati ji and Akhilesh Yadav ji. And I understand that there is a secular formation that is operating in the UP and it is going to crush the BJP,” he said.
On why the alliance in UP could not materialise, Rahul Gandhi said the SP and BSP felt they don’t have to ally with the Congress.
“Now my long term position in UP is very clear and I have told Jyotiraditya and my sister that we have to build the party in UP and that is assembly elections.
“And in the short term here in Lok Sabha, we have to fight for our space, we have to make sure our space is defended. We have to defend our ideology in UP and wherever we feel that there is fight between the gathbandhan and BJP, we are going to support the gathbandhan,” the Congress chief said.
Priyanka Gandhi, speaking to reporters in Amethi, had said on Wednesday: “We have carefully chosen candidates so that either Congress wins or they cut into BJP’s votes. Congress is not at all cutting into votes of the ‘UP gathbandhan’.”