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Cong to fight all 80 seats in UP: Azad

New Delhi, Jan 13: Putting speculations to rest, the Congress Sunday announced to field its candidates from 80 seats in UP in this year’s Lok Sabha elections.

This comes a day after old rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) announced a poll-alliance in the state to counter the ruling BJP.

The decision came after Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar held a closed-door meeting with senior leaders in Lucknow.

Keeping the option of forging an alliance open, Azad said it was willing to accommodate any secular party competent to fight the BJP.

“If any secular party competent to fight the BJP, willing to go with us, we will accommodate them,” PTI quoted Azad as saying.

Azad also expressed hope that the Congress would double its tally of seats which it had secured in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. In the 2009 general elections, Congress had bagged 21 seats while in 2014, it managed only two.

On Congress being left out of the SP-BSP alliance, Azad said, “We wanted that Congress should have been a part of the grand alliance (against the BJP) in UP. But, if someone does not want to walk along, then nothing could be done.”

The Congress leader further said Congress workers were not disheartened on being left out of the SP-BSP alliance.  “On the contrary, they are (workers) 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,” he said.

However, Azad also kept the option of a post-poll alliance with the SP and BSP open, saying that at the national level, the party would welcome all the secular regional parties.

BSP supremo Mayawati had said Saturday that the SP-BSP alliance won’t field any candidate from Amethi (currently held by party chief Rahul Gandhi) and Rae Bareli (held by Sonia Gandhi) seats. The Congress may see it as a back-door opportunity to join the alliance post elections.

Both SP and BSP will contest on 38 seats each of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats. In the 2014 elections, the BJP-led NDA, riding on the Modi wave, swept the state with 73 seats.