Like 2009, Cong aims to emerge as largest party in UP; will contest all 80 Lok Sabha seats
Talking to media persons here, Azad said: "We will fight on all 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. We are fully prepared. And just like the Congress emerged as number one party in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, we will fight on our own and win twice those number of seats in the coming elections."
In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had won 21 seats in Uttar Pradesh.
"We did not break this alliance. Public should know that. We had earlier also said that we are ready to walk with every party that wants to defeat the BJP. But we cannot force anyone. They have (SP-BSP) closed this chapter. So we will continue this fight for defeating the BJP on our own," he said further. UPCC chief Raj Babbar was also present on the occasion.
"Under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress will fight the Coming Lok Sabha elections with full might and defeat the BJP. The whole world knows that the fight is between the Congress and the BJP. We will welcome those who join us in this fight. It is not an individual's fight, but of principles and keep India united. People of all castes and religion have to fight this war together," he said.
Talking about the grand alliance, Azad said: "Mahagathbandhan is a creation of the media. However, as I said, any party which has interest in defeating the BJP is welcome to us. By the end of this month, you will come to know that we are also talking (for alliances)."
In response to BSP chief Mayawati's statement that she did not find much difference between the Congress and the BJP where she gave the example of Bofors and Rafale to bring home her point, Azad said: "Every individual is entitled to his or her opinion, which we cannot change."
Azad, also the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said: "The fight is not confined to one state. The fight is for the Parliament, for Delhi. Congress has MPs from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, and we can only defeat the BJP. We can strengthen the nation only when the party and the government do not divide the people for their own interests."
Speaking about talks with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) led by Ajit Singh and Shivpal Singh Yadav of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSPL), a splinter group of SP, Azad said: "N Chandrababu Naidu has come to us on his own, and we will talk to others."
Azad's announcement to contest all 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP comes close on the heels of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's statement during a media conference in Dubai on Saturday where he said that his party would contest the coming Lok Sabha elections with "full force" in Uttar Pradesh.
Rahul's comment had come hours after the SP and the BSP announced their alliance to take on the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in 2019 General Elections.
"The Congress party has tremendous to offer to the people of Uttar Pradesh. I have tremendous respect to the leaders of BSP and SP. They have a right to do what they want to do. The BSP and SP have made a political decision. It is on us how to strengthen the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh. We will fight with our full capacity," Rahul had told media in Dubai.
As per the alliance, the SP and the BSP will contest on 38 seats each, while they will not field their candidate against Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli. They have also kept two seats for the smaller parties.
During the press conference to announce the alliance in Lucknow on Saturday, Mayawati said that neither the SP nor the BSP would benefit by allying with the Congress. She also said that there was not much difference between the Congress and the BJP.
"Many a time, we have seen similarities between the Congress and the BJP. For example, in the defence sector, we are seeing how both indulged in corruption (Bofors and Rafale). Congress imposed declared emergency. Today there is an undeclared emergency," she said.
"Most sections of the society including scheduled castes, farmers, and the poor were unhappy with the Congress' rule. Whether the mandate goes to the Congress or the BJP, it is one and the same thing," Mayawati added.