The high profile visits of Congress
vice president Rahul Gandhi
and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah to Lucknow has sent the political heat soaring in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh
state, where elections are due from February 11 onwards.
While Shah was in town on Saturday to release BJP’s election manifesto, Gandhi arrived here on Sunday to kick off a road show in consort with ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) president and UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
combine is aimed at consolidating their traditional vote bank to keep BJP
at bay in the crucial state of UP. The road show, wherein the two leaders stood atop a bus waving to supporters, also traversed largely Muslim localities to signal their espousal of issues related to minorities. They later addressed a public meeting in the old city area.
Under the pact, SP
would fight 298 and 105 seats respectively, although minor irritants exist in about a dozen seats in Amethi and Rae Bareli districts, which have been the traditional pocket borough of the Gandhi family.
Before the road show, Gandhi and Yadav addressed a packed news conference at a city hotel, where they reiterated their parties had decided to contest polls together in the larger interest of the masses. Gandhi was flanked by UP Congress
Committee (UPCC) president Raj Babbar and senior Congress
leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Both the leaders primarily attacked BJP
and its alleged policy of creating a wedge between the communities and people.
While Gandhi said BJP
followed politics of hatred and divide, Yadav targetted BJP
and Prime Minister Narendra Modi
over demonetisation and the hardships it had caused to the people.
Gandhi noted the SP-Congress
alliance was based on peace, prosperity and progress for the people of UP. Yadav, for his part, used the catchphrase people's alliance to refer to the Congress-SP
“With the alliance, we want to present a viable option to the state’s youth,” said Gandhi, while adding that any political alliance would require its constituents to arrive at a compromise through negotiations for a common goal.
PM Modi, meanwhile, is slated to address several political rallies in the coming weeks to rally support for BJP
Similarly, Rahul Gandhi
and Akhilesh Yadav
are likely to address joint rallies across the state. Akhilesh Yadav’s wife and Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav has also been projected as a star campaigner for SP.
The seven-phased polling in the state would begin from February 11 and end on March 8. Counting of votes would be held on March 11 for all five poll-bound states- UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.