The slugfest between the Congress and Samajwadi Party over positioning their party as the main opponent to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of 2022 UP assembly elections is intensifying with both firing barbs at each other.
The prime objective behind the battle is said to be to grab the Muslim vote bank.
Taking a potshot at former ally Congress, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said that the grand old party would not even be able to open its account in the upcoming assembly polls.
In the 403-seat UP assembly, the ruling BJP has a majority with 312 seats and the state goes to polls in February, 2022.
"The public will refuse Congress and they will get zero seats in the upcoming assembly elections," said Akhilesh, a day after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tore into the SP chief’s campaign.
Contending that the former chief minister of UP became active only at the time of election, Priyanka had pointed out that Congress workers had gone to jail for raising people's issues in contrast to the SP. The Congress leader further accused both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party of perpetuating politics of caste and religion when in power.
Priyanka also hit out at the Samajwadi Party where it hurts the most, accusing Akhilesh Yadav of running the government of goons and casteism. She had also attacked the development plank of Akhilesh, pointing to SP’s hoarding ‘Aa rahe hain Akhilesh’.
“Where was Akhilesh Yadav when millions of migrant workers were suffering on the streets post lockdown in April 2020?” she sought to know.
Samajwadi Party sources claimed that the Congress was jittery as Akhilesh Yadav had refused to accept the grand old party’s request for alliance.
“For the last one year, Akhilesh has said umpteen times that the SP is not interested in alliance with big political parties as it is a costly bargain for Samajwadi Party. Big parties want more seats and they also lose all the seats and fail to transfer their votes to the electoral partner,” said a SP leader.
In 2016, Akhilesh Yadav had faced a massive family feud with his uncle Shivpal Yadav over who will take over the party's reins from patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. The then-SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had sided with his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav, throwing out then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years for releasing a separate list of 235 candidates for the 2017 assembly polls, countering his father's 325 candidate-lists.
Later, Akhilesh was reinstated and he promptly threw out his uncle of the party and replaced Mulayam Singh Yadav as the party chief. Amid these tumultuous family fights, Akhilesh stitched an alliance with Congress, which failed miserably as the SP could bag only 48 seats and the Congress seven, while the BJP romped home with 312 seats in 2017.
With the BJP fighting under the leadership of incumbent Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, several fronts have cropped up to challenge the ruling party. Akhilesh Yadav has stated that his SP will only ally with smaller political parties for the 2022 assembly polls, holding talks with Mahan Dal, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP).
The Congress on its part has aggressively campaigned under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the state, eyeing its solo return.