Having stitched up a historic alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati by burying their mutual bitterness of two-and-a-half decades, Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav’s only agenda now is to defeat the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and help install a pro-people government at the Centre. Affirming that the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is very much part of the SP-BSP alliance, Akhilesh says he is confident that seat-sharing issues with the Jat-dominated party will be sorted out soon.
In an interview with The New Indian Express, Akhilesh Yadav says he is confident an opposition alliance without the Congress will be effective in UP.
Q. Will RLD be a part of SP-BSP alliance?
Of course, RLD is going to be a part of it. We have cobbled up a grand alliance of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Nishad Party and Chauhan Party of Sanjay Chauhan to take on the BJP.
Q. RLD doesn’t seem to be satisfied with the number of seats it is being offered?
No, RLD will be satisfied very soon. We will find an amicable solution to the issues related to seat sharing with them. We will find a middle path. We can exchange seats as per out respective strongholds. For example, if they want Mathura, we will concede and take Kairana from them. Baghpat has been their traditional seat, so we will leave it for them.
Q. What about other smaller allies?
Parties like Nishad Party, Chauhan Party and Peace Party supported us in bypolls last year. So we will go into the Lok Sabha polls with them only.
Q. How will you then accommodate them? Will you concede seats from your share of 38?
It will be managed. We may field their candidates on our poll symbol, the way we fielded Nishad Party candidate on SP symbol in Gorakhpur bypoll and won. Here also we will find a similar formula.
Q. Congress is ready to go it alone. Will it dent the vote bank of SP-BSP alliance?
No, the alliance is formidable enough. We are not facing any threat from Congress rather it is alone. We have left two seats for them. In fact, we have always been leaving two traditional seats of Congress. The aim is to take on the BJP in the most effective way.
Q. Is there any tacit understanding between SP-BSP alliance and Congress?
No, the question of having any understanding with a national party doesn’t arise.
Q. But in 2017 UP polls you had an alliance with the Congress?
Then the situation was different. It did not prove to be a very fruitful alliance for us. There is no understanding with the Congress at all.
Q. With an animosity of decades behind you, do you think SP and BSP cadre will be able to forget it ever?
They have already forgotten it. The palpable zeal among the workers of both parties is a testimony to this fact.
Q. Will you and Dimple both contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls?
I will contest for sure. As far as Dimple is concerned, nothing is certain so far. She herself is an MP and I think she will go by her supporters' wish. But I don’t want her to contest because we also have our responsibilities towards our three children. So I will try to make up for her.
Q. BJP and even some lawmakers of your own party claim the alliance will continue till you are following diktats of Mayawati?
I know the BJP will use this kind of language now. But I will observe restraint. It is an alliance between equals. We are going to fight on an equal number of seats so where are the diktats? It is the BJP’s mindset. They may call me ‘tonti-chor’. But I never use such language. I have been brought up with certain values. Like Congress, I can’t stoop down to the level of saying ‘Chowkidaar chor hai’.
Q. SP and BSP are being accused of clinching a desperate, caste-based alliance for political survival?
It is typical of BJP leaders. They can say so because they are wary of this alliance. They are losing ground so they are implicating me in false cases by misusing the CBI. SP-BSP tie-up is here to begin a battle for people’s welfare. It is an inclusive alliance keeping the national interest supreme.
BJP has brought new poll in-charge (JP Nadda) for UP so that they can win at least one seat. Their MLAs, MPs are not on the ground. Most of them know that they won’t get a ticket this time.