The Congress on Sunday said it would contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh on its own, PTI reported.

This came a day after party chief Rahul Gandhi said the party would contest the polls in the state with “full capacity” after the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party excluded it from their alliance alliance.

“We are fully prepared,” party General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad said in a press conference in Lucknow. “And just like Congress emerged [the] number 1 party in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, we will fight on our own [and] win twice those number of seats in [the] upcoming elections.”

Azad clarified that the Congress had not refused to be part of the alliance with the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. “We had earlier also said that we are ready to walk with every party that wants to defeat BJP,” ANI quoted Azad as saying. “But we can’t force anyone. They have [SP-BSP] closed this chapter, so we will continue this fight for defeating BJP on our own.”

Azad said Congress workers were not disappointed on being left out of the SP-BSP alliance. “On the contrary, they are saying that the party would have had to contest on 25 Lok Sabha seats, but now they would be contesting on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats of the state,” PTI quoted him as saying.

On a post-poll alliance with the SP and the BSP, Azad said that at the national level the Congress welcomes all secular regional parties, PTI reported.

SP-BSP alliance will put up a strong fight, says BJP ally

Meanwhile, the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party – an ally of the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh – has said that the the SP-BSP alliance will put up a strong fight in the General Elections, PTI reported.

“The country is witnessing an era of coalition, and no party has the courage to go to the polls alone,” state Cabinet minister and party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar said on Saturday. “The SP-BSP alliance is a strong alliance, and it will put up a strong contest in the elections.” Rajbhar also denied rumours that his party would join the SP-BSP alliance.

Taking a dig at the BJP, Rajbhar said the saffron party has “galatfahmi [wrong perception]” that more than 60% people in the state support it. He said the BJP’s losses in the bye-elections in Gorakhpur, Phulpur, Kairana, and Noorpur Assembly seats have proved that it is not invincible in the state.

“If the alliance with the BJP has to continue, then there should be a division of reservation quota of the backward castes into three categories – backward, very backward and most backward,” Rajbhar added.