On SP-BSP Snub, Ghulam Nabi Azad Says 'Media Created Mahagathbandhan, Congress Never Talked About It'
Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing press in Lucknow | (Photo Credits: NDTV Screengrab)

Lucknow, January 13: Snubbed by the two major regional forces - Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party - Congress' Uttar Pradesh in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party is prepared to contest in the state even without a pre-poll alliance. The mahagathbandhan, said Azad, was a concept created by the media.

The Congress had never talked about a grand coalition, the veteran lawmaker claimed, adding that the party has only been in favour of allying with like-minded parties. "We will contest on all 80 seats, but if smaller parties want to join, we will form an alliance," he said, in a possible reference to the Rashtriya Lok Dal. 'Tremendous Respect For Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav,' Says Congress President Rahul Gandhi On SP-BSP Alliance.

Notably, RLD chief Ajit Singh is reportedly irked over being allotted only 2 seats by the SP-BSP. The former union minister had sent feelers to both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, demanding at least 5 constituencies under the seat-sharing pact.

Azad Outlines Congress' Poll Strategy in UP

Azad, along with Congress' UP unit chief Raj Babbar, held a high-level meeting in Lucknow earlier in the day with key state leaders of the party.

The Congress has decided to hold 13 mega rallies in Uttar Pradesh in February. The party has categorised 6 Lok Sabha constituencies as 1 zone -- and a rally will be addressed by Rahul Gandhi in each of these zones.

The first set of rallies will be held in Hapur, Moradabad and Saharanpur, beginning early next month, a party source said.

The primary target of the Congress will remain the state's agrarian class -- whose counterparts in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan switched their votes to the Congress on being promised a farm loan waiver.

'Congress Must Not be Charged of Excluding Dalits, Minorities, Backwards'

Marking his dissent against BSP supremo Mayawati's claim that Congress' rule, "similar to the BJP's", had also driven Dalits, minorities and backward communities to the margin, Azad said the party has always remained committed to the cause of marginalised communities.

"The Congress ensured that minorities remain protected in this nation. Our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ensured that right to freedom of religion is always upheld...He ensured that reservation is granted to the Dalit community," he said, further adding that the Mandal Commission's report sanctioning 27 per cent reservation to the OBCs was also smoothly implemented as a law by the then Congress government.