Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday claimed that his party has the ability to surprise people in Uttar Pradesh during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. To underestimate the party in the state is a “big mistake”, Gandhi said, days after the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party seemed to have ignored the Congress while allying for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“There are very interesting things that the Congress party can do in Uttar Pradesh... the Congress idea is very powerful for Uttar Pradesh,” he told the Gulf News ahead of a visit to the United Arab Emirates. “So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people.”

Last week, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party finalised their alliance to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had won 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2014 elections. Speculation suggested that they may give the Congress only two seats in the state – Amethi and Raebareli, the constituencies of Rahul Gandhi and former party chief Sonia Gandhi. Later, Samajwadi Party National Vice President Kiranmoy Nanda claimed that the alliance does not require an “insignificant force” such as the Congress to defeat the BJP in the state.

While the Congress would try to unite the Opposition against the BJP, Gandhi hinted that the party would be ready to contest alone. “I have heard some statements in the media but we are going to work together and make sure that we defeat [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi,” he said. “But, I just want to say again – to underestimate the Congress in Uttar Pradesh is a big mistake.”

Gandhi said that the party was capable of forging alliances in other states and that defeating Modi would be their priority. “There are states where we are very strong and we are the primary party and are contesting the BJP directly,” he said. “There are states where there are possible alliances – Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar – where we are working out an alliance formula.”