The Janata Dal (United) on Wednesday announced that it will not contest the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh to ensure that secular votes are not divided in the state, PTI reported. The decision was taken to defeat communal forces, JD(U) national general secretary KC Tyagi said.

Tyagi however made it clear that Bihar chief minister and party leader Nitish Kumar will not be campaigning for any candidate in the Assembly polls, even if Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav asked. Tyagi also said that the party was disappointed and hurt that Samajwadi Party and Congress had come together and failed to form a grand alliance like it did in Bihar ahead of Assembly elections there in 2015.

The Samajwadi Party has formed an alliance with the Congress under Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s leadership. The state’s ruling party will contest from 298 seats while the Congress will field its members from 105 constituencies in the 403-seat Assembly. Tyagi said it was surprising that an alliance of all “secular forces” to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party could not be formed in Uttar Pradesh. But, he added, “If we have to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, then it is necessary that BJP must be defeated in UP polls.”

Uttar Pradesh will have elections in seven phases, starting from February 11. Votes will be counted on March 11.