The Congress party on Wednesday roped in a little known local outfit Mahan Dal in an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha polls. The announcement was made in the presence of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the newly appointed Congress general secretary for east Uttar Pradesh.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, another general secretary of the Congress looking after western UP, and Keshav Dev Maurya of Mahan Dal announced the alliance at the state Congress office in Lucknow.
"I welcome Keshav Maurya ji. We will fight the elections jointly. Rahul ji has given us the task of creating a political atmosphere in which everyone is taken along and all sections of the society are represented," Priyanka said.
"We will contest with full might," she asserted.
The Mahan Dal had joined the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2014. In western Uttar Pradesh, the Mahan Dal contested from three Lok Sabha constituencies - Badaun, Nagina and Etah, though all lost.
The Mahan Dal claims support from the OBC voters of western UP, especially Shakyas, Mauryas and Kushwahas.
Rahul Gandhi placed 41 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh under the charge of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and 39 parliamentary segments under Jyotiraditya Scindia. Following this development, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday held daylong meetings with local Congress leaders and scores of party workers at the party office in Lucknow. She advised them to strengthen their respective booths.
Meanwhile, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced that the opposition will have a pre-poll alliance and a common minimum agenda, after meeting Congress's Rahul Gandhi, AAP's Arvind Kejriwal and TDP's Chandrababu Naidu at residence of NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
Elaborating on the meeting, Congress president elucidated that the "principal target" of the alliance is to "fight against the assault on institutes" by the Modi-government.
He said, "We had a very constructive meeting. We agreed that the principal target for all of us is to wipe assault on Indian institutions being carried out by Narendra Modi, BJP and RSS. We agreed to start a conversation about a common minimum programme and we have a commitment that we're all going to work together to defeat BJP."