Akhilesh Yadav Joins Rahul Gandhi Yatra, Days After Seat-Sharing Deal

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New Delhi:

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has joined the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi that is passing through Agra in Uttar Pradesh. The overture came days after the seat-sharing deal between the SP and the Congress. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who helped finalise the deal between the two parties that was on ice for months, is also at the spot.

The bonhomie gives the Opposition bloc INDIA some cause to cheer. Mr Yadav is one of the first key Opposition leaders to join the massive footmarch that is expected to span the country from west to east before culminating in Mumbai.

Trinamool Congress chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had stayed away from the rally when it passed through her state amid a fresh bout of rancour over seat sharing.

The Congress is making efforts to heal the breach with a fresh plan that scales down its ambitions in Bengal and offers Trinamool seats in Assam and Meghalaya, where it has been the principal Opposition party.  

Earlier this week, reaching out personally to Akhilesh Yadav, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had helped seal the 17-seat deal for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, sources said.

In return, the Congress cedes one more seat in Madhya Pradesh to SP, making up for the omission of its then state unit chief Kamal Nath that had jeopardised its deal with the party and the unity of the INDIA bloc.

In Uttar Pradesh, besides its strongholds of Raebareli and Amethi — which Rahul Gandhi lost to the BJP’s Smriti Irani in 2019 — the Congress will also have to spearhead the challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his constituency, Varanasi.

The other seats the party will contest includes Kanpur Nagar, Fatehpur Sikri, Basgaon, Saharanpur, Prayagraj, Maharajganj, Amroha, Jhansi, Bulandshahar, Ghaziabad, Mathura, Sitapur, Barabanki, and Deoria.

The BJP had won 71 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014, its ally Apna Dal, led by Anupriya Patel, had won two.  

In 2019, the BJP’s voteshare rose, but the number of seats dropped. The party won only 62 seats. The Samajwadi Party won five seats, its then ally, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, 10 seats and the Congress won only from Raebareli.

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