Akhilesh Yadav Says Will Join Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra, Day After Seat Sharing Pact

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Akhilesh Yadav Says Will Join Congress' Yatra, Day After Seat Sharing Pact

Lucknow:

The Samajwadi Party will join the Congress’ ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, party boss Akhilesh Yadav said Thursday afternoon, a day after the two agreed a 63-17 split of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 Lok Sabha seats.

Akhilesh Yadav is expected to join the rally in Agra.

The deal – the first major accord between members of the INDIA bloc, who had till then struggled to agree seat-sharing terms – followed a firm final offer from the SP, which said it would surrender only 15 seats to its ally, and that it would not otherwise attend the Rahul Gandhi-led pan-India yatra.

“We have had several rounds of discussions… exchanged many lists. When seat-sharing is done (then) Samajwadi Party will participate in their yatra,” Akhilesh Yadav had said.

READ | Akhilesh Yadav’s 15 Seats Offer To Congress, And Yatra Condition

The Congress’ yatra, now in its second month, has become both a rallying point and test of unity for the opposition, after two senior political figures – Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, snubbed invitations, underlining tension within the bloc.

Ms Banerjee even lashed out at the yatra, accusing the Congress of disrespecting her.

“They are coming to my state… but did not have courtesy to inform me, even though I am part of the INDIA bloc. So there is no relations with me, as far as Bengal is concerned,” she told reporters.

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Nitish Kumar has since led his Janata Dal (United) to ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party, while Ms Banerjee has made it clear she is not open to sharing seats with the Congress or any INDIA party.

The optics of a third top opposition figure skipping the yatra would, therefore, not have gone down well, either for the Congress or the INDIA bloc – a factor that may have played a big role in the national outfit agreeing a deal with the Samajwadi Party that sees it reduced to a minority partner.

The Congress could also absolutely not afford to see a third INDIA member drop out; apart from the JDU, in western UP NDTV understands Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal will exit the alliance.

READ | “Had Limited Time To Decide…”: RLD Leader On BJP Switch Buzz

Whatever the circumstances behind the deal, the alliance has ensured this is a good week for INDIA.

READ | After Delhi, AAP-Congress Deal In Goa, Haryana, Gujarat: Sources

The Aam Aadmi Party’s Chandigarh mayoral win – in alliance with the Congress – and seat-share deals between the two in Delhi and other states suggest things are finally looking up.

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