Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Is Mulayam Singh looking for alliance partner in UP election?

Amid speculation that a Bihar-like "Grand Alliance" to take on the BJP could be in the works for the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections, Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his close aide Amar Singh today met election strategist Prashant Kishor in Delhi.

The Samajwadi Party leaders held talks with Mr Kishor, who is designing the Congress' poll strategy and campaign in UP, for about three hours, sources said, adding that it was "too early to speculate about an alliance."

As he struggles with a gigantic power tussle within the party between his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and younger brother Shivpal Yadav perilously close to the state elections, Mulayam Singh is said to favour getting together such an alliance not only to counter the BJP, but also Mayawati's BSP.

Mulayam Singh had earlier walked out of the Nitish Kumar-led "Grand Alliance" in Bihar last year, in what his party now admits was an ill-advised move. It blames it on Ram Gopal Yadav, Mulayam's cousin recently sacked from the Samajwadi Party.

Earlier this week Mulayam Singh had dispatched Shivpal Yadav, who is the party's UP chief, to meet Jat leader Ajit Singh of the Rahstriya Lok Dal ostensibly to invite him for the party's 25th birthday celebrations on Saturday.

Shivpal Yadav is said to have proposed an alliance to Ajit Singh, who is reportedly keeping his options open, though his party said he "responded positively."

Shivpal Yadav also met KC Tyagi of the Janata Dal United, Nitish Kumar's party.

The Congress, which along with Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav eventually formed the Grand Alliance in Bihar, will have different expectations in UP, where it has already identified a chief ministerial candidate in former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Congress vice president Rahu Gandhi recently toured the state meeting farmers and the party fancies its chances of performing much better in these UP elections than it has in years.

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, at odds with his father who has favoured his uncle in their bitter feud, is said to favour contesting the elections without pre-poll partners.

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