SP to support any secular alliance for prez poll: Akhilesh

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His remarks came against the backdrop of CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury recently meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi to explore the possibility of fielding a joint candidate for the presidential poll, even as RJD boss Lalu Prasad talked about cobbling together a Bihar-style 'mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance).

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too has called for a larger unity among the regional parties ahead of the presidential election.

Significantly, senior SP leader Shivpal Yadav today announced that party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav will head a "new, secular front" to be formed by him.

The presidential election is scheduled in July and opposition unity for contesting it may well be a precursor to an anti-NDA front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar had recently ruled out the possibility of a tie-up with the SP for the upcoming local bodies polls in the state. Akhilesh though played it down saying, "Our friendship with the Congress will continue." He, however, did not elaborate.

The Congress has decided to go it alone in the urban bodies polls in Uttar Pradesh.

The move is being seen as an impending end to the SP- Congress alliance, which was forged before the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.

The alliance suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the BJP in the UP polls. It managed to secure only 54 seats (SP 47, Congress seven) as opposed to the BJP-led NDA's 325.

In the aftermath of the dismal poll performance, speculation was rife that the allies might part ways for the urban bodies polls as the local Congress leaders had voiced opposition to the continuance of the tie-up.

On the Bulandshahr lynching incident, in which a Muslim man was allegedly beaten to death by the workers of the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), a right-wing group formed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, after an inter-faith couple eloped, Akhilesh said they (HYV) should also prepare a list of those BJP leaders, who have had similar marriages.

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