RLD allies with Congress for UP polls
New Delhi: With Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections due early next year, an alliance between the Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) was announced on Saturday.
Speaking at a press conference here, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh announced that the two parties have agree on fighting the upcoming polls in that state together as RLD will be joining the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Ajit Singh, whose RLD has five members in the Lok Sabha, met Sonia Gandhi this evening and expressed his willingness to join UPA which was welcomed by the Congress President, senior Congress leader Mohan Prakash, who was present at the meeting, said.
Ajit Singh (72) will soon be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh amid possibilities that he could join the Cabinet with Prakash saying that like very partner in UPA, RLD will also get its share in power.
Prakash hailed RLD joining the UPA and fighting UP assembly elections under Congress as a "game changer."
"It will be a game changer in UP elections," he said.
He also indicated that former union minister and SP leader Rashid Masood, as also several other senior leaders, will be joining Congress soon.
There is speculation that Singh will get 45 seats with seat sharing adjustments likely to be announced by next week.
RLD is the first party to join UPA after the 2009 general election. He has joined at a time when some allies have become demanding.
Reports suggest that the RLD chief is expected to be made the Aviation Minister and will most probably be sworn in as early as next week.
The alliance talks between the two parties have been on for quite some time and Digvijay Singh had earlier this week expressed the hope that the alliance would be struck soon.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Ajit Singh have held meetings to discuss the seat-sharing, according to sources.
If this alliance materialises, it would be a significant move in the elections to the 403-member UP Assembly.
The talks between the two parties had run into rough weather some time back reportedly due to Ajit Singh's demand for a berth in the Union Cabinet.
Congress had come fourth with 21 seats in the last Assembly elections in UP in 2007.
BJP, which has 98 MLAs in the present Assembly, has already announced it would not go for any pre or post-poll alliance in the state.
Some recent poll surveys have put Samajwadi Party and BSP among the front-runners while BJP stands at the third place but way behind these two parties.
The scenario may change if the Congress-RLD alliance happens as the two parties can bank on Jat, Muslim and upper caste votes.
Ajit Singh had earlier said that Congress and RLD should join hands as this was the only way to defeat Mayawati-led BSP.