NEW DELHI: Sheila Diskhit, who has been projected as the Congress’ chief ministerial face for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections, said on Wednesday that she would “be happy” to have Akhilesh Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate if her party forged an alliance with the Samajwadi Party.
The former Delhi chief minister told NDTV that she thought Akhilesh was a “much better” chief ministerial candidate for the politically crucial state. She, however, clarified that no final call had been taken on teaming up with the Samajwadi Party, which is currently embroiled in a bitter power tussle between two factions.
In November, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had made it clear to the Samajwadi Party that he was willing to consider an alliance in Uttar Pradesh only if Akhilesh was to be given the full command of the party.
Akhilesh too had indicated that he was open to the idea of allying with the Congress, but his father and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav had clearly ruled out any pre-poll alliance. This is also seen as one of the reasons for the growing estrangement between father and son.
The Samajwadi Party is on the brink of a split, with Akhilesh and Mulayam divided into two camps and fighting over their party symbol, the cycle. However, the two factions tried to hammer out a truce on Tuesday, with Akhilesh even holding talks with his father for over two hours, but nothing conclusive came out of it.
Most state Congress are of the view that Akhilesh’s “clean” and “popular” image would help in defeating “communal forces”. And the party appears to have kept its doors open for a pre-poll alliance, given the inclination of Akhilesh for such a tie-up to garner over 300 Assembly seats.
“As of now, we are working on the recommendations of the screening committee for all the 403 seats in the state ...what can happen in future will be known only later ... but there is a lot of pressure on secular parties (for an alliance),” AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad told newspersons on the sidelines of the Congress’ executive committee meeting in Lucknow.
“The 36-member central election committee will meet here from tomorrow for three days in which names of the candidates will be finalised,” he said.
The Congress leader, however, did not openly advocate alliance with any party for the coming polls.