Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rahul Gandhi inclined to forge electoral alliance with Akhilesh if Samajwadi Party splits?

Congress, which is keeping a close watch on fast-paced events related to the Samajwadi Party, is inclined to forge an electoral alliance with the breakaway faction led by young UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in case of split in the regional party.

Sources close to the Congress party said on Thursday that its vice president Rahul Gandhi, who shares a good rapport with Akhilesh, is positive about out an alliance with the latter in case there is a split in the Samajwadi Party.

"It is an evolving situation in the Samajwadi Party. First, let the things settle down within that party. Then we'll come to it. Suppose there is a split, it is then a new situation," said the Congress source who indicated an alliance with any breakaway faction.

Another Congress leader, however, dubbed the SP happenings an "orchestrated drama" for which he held the Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav responsible.

"The whole drama has been produced, directed and acted by Mulayam Singh Yadav," said the leader.

In view of the ongoing feud in the Samajwadi family, political observers feel that both Rahul and Akhilesh, who are seen as young Turks, have are intolerant and have much less reverence for the old guard, which relies on traditional support from muscle and money.

Amid the bitter power struggle in Utar Pradesh's first family, a new axis - Rahul Gandhi joining hands with Akhilesh - appears to be emerging in the SP-ruled state.

Such an alignment, if it becomes a reality, will throw a serious challenge to any aspirant of UP throne in the upcoming 2017 polls.

An indication to this possibility came when hours after the scuffle between uncle Shivpal and nephew Akhilesh, a high-level meeting of top Congress leaders was presided over by none other than Priyanka Gandhi.

During the meeting, the Congress leaders have repotedly agreed to lend support to Akhilesh in the event of a split in the SP and the subsequent floor test in state Assembly.

Importantly, the party's CM face Sheila Dixit and state president Raj Babbar were also present in the meeting.

Though, Congress officially denies such a possibility, there are intense speculations of the two sides coming together in the event of a split in the SP.

While Rahul had become infamous in his party owing to this attitude, Akhilesh is the new entrant to the club who has finally chosen to come out from under the wings of his father.

"Akhilesh wants to recast the party in a modern image as he is convinced that politics has changed and the party too must accordingly. But, this means shunning the old ragged ways of politics represented by Shivpal. The other camp is not ready to relinquish its power in turn," said a SP MLC who requested anonymity.

The tables could be turned in the event of a Rahul-Akhilesh combination becoming a reality.

The Congress, said observers, had always been in the good books of the Muslim community but due to their inability to defeat the BJP could not turn the goodwill into votes. A large chunk of the Muslim votebank could be attracted if Akhilesh forms a front with the Congress.

Such a possible scenario, nonetheless, will see a tripartite division of the minority votes in UP giving the BJP a succour.

Hitherto, the BJP has been wary of the 'Mahabharata' in SP as Muslims would gravitate towards the BSP giving it a formidable Dalit-Muslim combination.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday afternoon met Governor Ram Naik at the Raj Bhavan in Lucknow.

Earlier, Akhilesh met party legislators, members of the Legislative Council and other leaders, including those expelled from the party.

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