The Samajwadi Party is still part of the INDIA opposition bloc, Akhilesh Yadav told NDTV Monday, amid buzz he may quit due to a row with the Congress over seat-sharing for the Madhya Pradesh election.
However, the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister did leave himself an escape route and said again that ‘PDA’ – his plan to target voters from backward classes (Pichde), Dalit communities and minorities (Alpasankhyaks) – is the key (rather than INDIA) to defeat the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance”.
“I have said this before. PDA is party’s strategy… INDIA is alliance …” he said.
Last week Mr Yadav had said, “PDA was formed first and INDIA was formed later. I have, on multiple occasions, said that though INDIA is there, our strategy is of PDA…”
The 28-member INDIA bloc was formed this year for the express purpose of uniting and galvanising the opposition to defeat the BJP in five remaining state polls this year and, crucially, in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party will hope to win a third consecutive term.
Tensions between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party flared up again this month after the former reportedly refused to give the latter six seats to contest in the November 17 Madhya Pradesh election.
The two have since ended up fielding candidates against each other for 18 constituencies.
“They assured us they will think about us for six seats. When they announced candidates there was nothing (for Samajwadi Party). If I knew, we wouldn’t have spoken to Congress,” Mr Yadav said.
The Congress, meanwhile, played down Mr Yadav’s angst; its Madhya Pradesh boss, and former Chief Minister, Kamal Nath jibed, “Arre bhai chhodo Akhilesh Vakhilesh… (leave this Akhilesh Vakhilesh).”
Meanwhile, in another sign that all is not well between the two sides, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party have also traded banners hailing their respective figureheads as future prime ministers.
A banner describing Congress MP Rahul Gandhi as the ‘2024 Prime Minister’ appeared outside his party’s Lucknow office, days after a similar poster called Akhilesh Yadav India’s ‘future Prime Minister’.