Sujay Mehdudia

"Modalities to be worked out soon"

NEW DELHI: The Congress said on Sunday that it had entered into a seat-sharing poll agreement with the Bahujan Kisan Dal (BKD), the political wing of Mahendra Singh Tikait's Bharatiya Kisan Union, for contesting the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Briefing newsmen at the AICC headquarters here, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president, Salmaan Khursheed and BKD leader, Rakesh Tikait said both parties had agreed to contest together in Uttar Pradesh in order to ensure the victory of the Congress.

Mr. Rakesh Tikait, who is the son of Chaudhary Mahendra Singh Tikait, is contesting from the Khatauli Assembly segment where the Congress has decided not to field any candidate.

Mr. Tikait said the endeavour of his party was to see the installation of Amethi MP, Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Minister of the country. He said the seat-sharing arrangement had been arrived at during the recent three-day western Uttar Pradesh tour of Mr. Gandhi.

"We have decided to support each other's stronger candidates in the entire region. The BKU has a big presence in Western Uttar Pradesh and other parts and this would be used to ensure that this alliance emerges victorious. The BKD has fielded 65 candidates in the region and allotted symbols to them but asking them to withdraw where the Congress is stronger will not be a problem at all," he added.

Mr. Khursheed said although talks were on with the Rahstriya Lok Dal and the Jan Morcha they had not progressed the way the Congress would have liked them to. Conceding that the seat arrangement had come late in the day, Mr. Khursheed said modalities like the seats to be contested and joint campaigning would be decided in due course. "The campaign in Uttar Pradesh is yet to begin. We will work out our strategy according to a schedule finalised by the party high command. There is a strong demand for campaigning by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and of course the young Mr. Gandhi," he said.

Mr. Khursheed said it was very difficult to predict the number of seats the party or the alliance would win but expressed the confidence that the Congress would play a major role in influencing the formation of the next Government in the State. "Our foremost task is to revive the Congress politically in the State and we are heading in that direction under the inspiring leadership of Mr. Gandhi and the Congress president," he added.