SP to keep equidistance from both Congress and BJP; stands firmly with Mamata Banerjee

To defeat the saffron camp, the SP would stand firmly with Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav said

Updated - March 17, 2023 09:27 pm IST

Published - March 17, 2023 05:17 pm IST - Kolkata

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav during a meeting with party workers in Kolkata on March 17, 2023.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav during a meeting with party workers in Kolkata on March 17, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Samajwadi Party will maintain an equal distance from both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, party president Akhilesh Yadav said on Friday, before he met with West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee at her Kolkata residence. Sources indicated that, at their meeting, the two leaders both agreed to such a stance.

“In Bengal, we are with Mamata didi. Right now, our stand is we want to maintain equal distance from both the BJP and the Congress,” Mr. Yadav said. The SP leader is in Kolkata for the national executive meeting of his party and maintained that regional parties will hold the key to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

‘Alliance before polls’

“If you look at the States, then most MPs who will be elected [in 2024] will neither be from the Bharatiya Janata Party nor from the Congress,” Mr. Yadav told journalists in Kolkata in response to a question asking whether it would be possible to defeat the BJP without the Congress party.“

The SP leader said that he was “hopeful of an alliance or a front taking shape before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls”.  

“Everyone wants a chance because nobody has done the damage which the BJP has done to the country,” he said.

TMC to contest alone

The SP chief’s remarks are in tune with the stand taken by the Trinamool chairperson, who had previously announced that her party would contest the 2024 Lok Sabha polls alone. On March 3, Ms. Banerjee had stated that her party would not ally with the Congress, adding that there would be an alliance between the people and the Trinamool.

While neither of the leaders spoke to media persons after an hour-long meeting at the West Bengal Chief Minister’s residence, sources privy to the developments at the meeting said that both of them have agreed on maintaining an equal distance from the BJP and Congress.

‘Big boss’

Hours before the meeting, the Trinamool Congress in a press conference accused the Congress of pretending to be the big boss of the Opposition parties. Both the Trinamool and SP leadership had stayed away from the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Mr. Yadav and Ms. Banerjee share a cordial relationship and the SP MP Jaya Bachchan had campaigned for the Trinamool Congress in the 2021 Assembly polls. Ms. Banerjee had herself campaigned for the Samajwadi Party in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls of 2022.

Mr. Yadav said that the aim of the national convention was to increase SP’s tally in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.  “In Uttar Pradesh, we will contest Lok Sabha polls with the parties with whom we have an alliance,” he added.

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