Top Opposition leaders of Uttar Pradesh may not participate in the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra which is set to enter the politically significant state in the first week of January.
The Congress had invited Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary to join the party’s mega march from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu to Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar.
Sources have told NDTV that Mr Yadav may not join the yatra, but it is not yet clear if he will send a party leader to participate in the march. Party spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari told NDTV that Samajwadi Party supports the idea of Bharat Jodo Yatra, but does not want to muddle it by sparking speculation over a possible political alliance.
RLD chief Chaudhary told NDTV that he has prior engagements and won’t be able to join the Congress march. Party spokesperson Rohit Jakhar said RLD supports the yatra, but that it should not be seen through a political prism. “We are already running a government with the Congress in Rajasthan. We ideologically support the yatra,” he told NDTV over a phone call.
Mr Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and its ally RLD, it appears, have opted to stay out of the yatra as their participation may spark a buzz about a possible political alliance for the 2024 general election. The Congress is aware that it would the need the support of Mr Yadav’s party, the largest Opposition force in Uttar Pradesh now, if it wants to make an impact in the 2024 polls. But Mr Yadav, it seems, has chosen a cautious approach.
This caution must also be seen against the backdrop of the electoral debacle the party faced in the 2017 state polls when it tied up with the Congress. In contrast, the Samajwadi Party went alone in the 2022 election and posted its best ever Assembly poll performance.
The RLD, expectedly, is in no mood to upset its equations with its ally over the Congress yatra.