Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has slammed his former ally, the Congress party, at a rally in Chhattisgarh's Korba on Thursday, throwing doubt over a potential coalition of the parties ahead of the 2019 elections.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister is campaigning for the Gondwana Republic party, and attacked the Narendra Modi-led NDA government over demonetisation.
"Money was deposited in banks during demonetisation. Who ran away with it after it was deposited in banks?", Akhilesh Yadav asked.
He added, "So many people fled outside India", before alleging that both the BJP and the Congress were responsible for this.
"Both BJP and Congress are involved. There's no difference between the two. Jo BJP hai woh Congress hai, jo Congress hai woh BJP hai (BJP is what Congress is, Congress is what BJP is).
The attack on the Congress follows a similar line taken by Akhilesh's former (and maybe current) rival Mayawati, who had ruled out an alliance with the Congress for the ongoing assembly elections, in September. However, earlier this year it had looked like a different picture as an alliance of the SP-BSP backed by the Congress won a number of key victories in critical bypolls in Uttar Pradesh.
Also ongoing are the efforts of Chandrababu Naidu to stitch together a platform to 'save democracy'. The TDP chief has met both Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav in recent weeks, along with many other leaders.
The Congress and SP had famously come together before the 2017 UP elections where they received a trouncing. Speaking to Republic TV's Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, the then poll-strategist for the Congress, Prashant Kishor, had revealed what had gone wrong then for the two parties, as the BJP stormed to its most significant victories post-2014, in India's most populous state. Kishor spoke about how the Congress had a detailed strategy to go into the elections alone, and was operationalising it by September 2016, but post the Surgical Strike, decided that it would seek an alliance with the Samajwadi Party. At this point, Kishor considered quitting the campaign, though he eventually remained.