Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have called a joint press conference in Lucknow. (File)
Former bitter rivals Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati will hold a joint press conference this noon at a five-star hotel in Lucknow to announce their widely-anticipated alliance for the national election due by May. On Friday, Mr Yadav hinted that the Congress will be left out of the equation in Uttar Pradesh, India's most politically vital state.
"We can give the Congress two seats in Uttar Pradesh they have always held," Akhilesh Yadav told NDTV, but refused to give a direct answer on whether the alliance between Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for the approaching would include Rahul Gandhi's party.
"I don't want to say anything about the Congress because first we need to resolve the alliance of Samajwadi Party and BSP," Mr Yadav said.
The Congress said it was ready to fight the parliamentary polls alone in the state. "We may have fallen on difficult times. But I think to ignore us can prove to be a very dangerous mistake," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said. "Since everybody realises that, I think we will have a happy and harmonious solution sometime in the near future," he said.
The two regional parties have been in talks for weeks. Last week, their meeting in Delhi raised a lot of talk over reports that the former chief ministers had decided on a "mahagathbandhan" or grand coalition leaving the Congress out of the equation in Uttar Pradesh, India's most politically vital state.
Smaller parties like the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Nishad Party are also likely to be in the alliance but they are cautious about seat-sharing. The RLD of Ajit Singh wants five seats in western UP, but is only being offered two. "Talks over seat-sharing are still on, we haven't discussed seats yet," said Ajit Singh.
The alliance with Mayawati was very important, said the former chief minister, because the BJP, with its alliances, had won 73 of Uttar Pradesh's 80 seats.
The Mayawati-Akhilesh combo has reportedly decided not to field candidates in Amethi and Raebareli, the seats held by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi.
(With inputs from PTI)