LUCKNOW: After being dumped by the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Wednesday reiterated that it was ready to put up a fight and give the BJP a run for its money in all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, which is considered the most crucial politically and electorally.
The party, however, left a window open for last minute allies in the battle for the Lok Sabha.
"We are willing to leave a few seats here and there if any like-minded party reaches out to us and we feel that it has what it takes to fight the BJP," Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC general secretary and party's in-charge for UP, told reporters here on Wednesday. He, however, denied being in talks with any political party for an electoral tie-up.
"Our preparation for all 80 seats is complete," he added. Asked if the Congress' week presence on the ground in UP is the reason why the SP and BSP kept it out of the alliance, Azad, who held a brainstorming session with party mandarins in Lucknow on Wednesday, said, "The forthcoming general elections will prove which party stands where beyond any reasonable doubt."
Senior Congress leaders had huddled in the state capital to thrash out the party's strategy and evaluate its preparedness ahead of the elections. They also firmed up plans for over a dozen rallies being planned to be addressed by party chief Rahul Gandhi across UP in February.
According to sources, the Congress chief is likely to address his first mega rally in Lucknow on February 2. Congress leaders discussed the venue and time of the rally on Wednesday.
The AICC general secretary, flanked by UPCC chief Raj Babbar and Pramod Tiwari, claimed that they discussed the candidates to be fielded in all 80 seats across the state.
In this connection, they met leaders from other parts of the state, including Gorakhpur, Allahabad and Kannauj regions for ground-level feedback.
Apart from Lucknow, other venues identified for the rallies to be addressed by the party chief include Gorakhpur, Kannauj, Varanasi, Sitapur, Hapur, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Aligarh, Bareilly and Agra, sources said.
Rahul Gandhi may also address a rally in Banda in the Bundelkhand region.
The party intends to field BSP turncoat Naseemuddin Siddiqui from Banda.
One of the reasons for Mayawati's chagrin towards Congress was Siddiqui, who was inducted into the party despite her reservations.
The party chief will attack the ruling BJP in his rallies on issues ranging from unemployment, farm distress, women's security and alleged lawlessness in the state.