Efforts to form grand secular alliance in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh gained momentum today after the Election Commission recognised Akhilesh Yadav-led faction as Samajwadi Party and granted it the “bicycle” poll symbol. Soon after the EC order, SP general secretary Ramgopal Yadav, a close associate of Akhilesh, expressed hope a grand alliance will be formed to fight elections in the state.
Ramgopal, who has been staunch supporter of Akhilesh through the intra-party tussle, however, hastened to add the Chief Minister will take the final decision in the matter. Congress spokesman and former Union minister R P N Singh was among the first to hail the EC order, which he said, shows that Akhilesh enjoys “90 per cent support” in the organisation as also among the legislators of the Samajwadi Party. Replying to a question, Singh suggested the development could hasten the alliance process.Hectic efforts are already on to hammer out such an alliance with Congress being offered 90 to 100 seats by the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party, which is also roping in Ajit Singh’s RLD as a junior partner. Talk in Congress circles was that party General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ramgopal Yadav from SP are sorting out disputes over some seats.Uttar Pradesh has 403 Assembly constituencies where Akhilesh’s party would be contesting the majority of seats and would also have RLD as a junior partner in Western Uttar Pradesh, which was once a stronghold of Ajit Singh. The three parties will have to race against time to finalise the seat arrangements in the next two days as the Western Uttar Pradesh, where Ajit Singh enjoys some influence, goes to polls in the first two phases.Talk is that the three parties would come out with a common minimum programme. The SP general secretary also said the list of party candidates will be released in a day or two. Leaders from the three parties insist that the main task in Uttar Pradesh is to stop the Narendra Modi-led BJP from coming to power.In 2015 assembly elections in Bihar, the Congress had joined hands with JD(U) and RJD to form a grand alliance, which caused a major upset for BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi by easily securing power. The BJP-led NDA had won 31 of the 40 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Bihar.In a major boost to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the Election Commission today recognised the faction headed by him as the Samajwadi Party and alloted the reserved symbol ‘bicycle’ to it for contesting the coming Assembly elections.

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