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Not received invitation for Bharat Jodo Yatra; Cong, BJP the same: Akhilesh Yadav

Lucknow: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday likened the Congress to the BJP and said he had not received any invitation for the Uttar Pradesh leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

“Our emotions are with their yatra (but) I have not got any invitation for it,” the Samajwadi Party (SP) leader said when asked if he would take part in it.

In a lighter vein, he asked a reporter asking questions on the Uttar Pradesh leg of Rahul Gandhi’s march to pass on the invitation if she had it in her phone.

“The principle of our party is different — the BJP and the Congress are one,” Yadav said at a press conference when asked if he would take part.

Yadav, however, did not elaborate on his comment clubbing the BJP and the Congress in the same bracket.

The yatra, a mass contact initiative of the Congress, started from Kanyakumari on September 7 and covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi in the first phase.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which is currently on winter break, will resume its journey from Delhi on January 3 and enter Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress has said it had invited leaders of several non-BJP parties, including Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary, to take part in the yatra’s Uttar Pradesh leg from January 3.

Rajendra Chaudhary, a spokesperson for the SP, had earlier said that Yadav was unlikely to take part in the yatra due to his “preoccupation” with party programmes.

There has also been no discussion in the party on the yatra, Chaudhary had said when asked if any other SP leader would take part. RLD chief Chaudhary is also unlikely to take part.

Anil Dubey, the party’s chief spokesperson, said, “I do not think that Jayant ji will be going for the yatra. He is preoccupied with party programmes that have already been planned.”

The SP, which had contested the 2017 assembly elections in the state in alliance with the Congress, has since then maintained a distance from the party.

It is the main opposition in Uttar Pradesh, which sends a maximum of 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha and Yadav’s absence from the yatra is seen as a setback to the Congress’s efforts to bring anti-BJP parties together.

The SP had joined hands with the BSP in Uttar Pradesh for the General Elections in 2019 and contested this year’s assembly polls in the politically significant state with the RLD and some regional outfits.

The Congress had contested both 2019 the General Elections and the 2022 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh alone.

In 2019, even Gandhi suffered defeat at the hands of Smriti Irani from the family bastion of Amethi, with only Sonia Gandhi managing to hold on to her Rae Bareli seat.

In the 2022 assembly polls, the Congress’ stock plummeted to two in the 403-member House, down from nine in 2017.

The SP won 111 seats and Yadav became the Leader of the Opposition in the House.

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