Amid alliance hype, Prashant Kishore meets Akhilesh

Lucknow, Nov 7 (IANS) Election strategist Prashant Kishore, who has been hired by Congress for its Uttar Pradesh assembly campaign, on Monday met state Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, amid growing speculation that Congress and the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) would be part of a grand alliance ahead of the early 2017 polls.

While both sides refused to be drawn into the alliance speculation, the development is been seen as a change of stance by Akhilesh Yadav, who so far has been bitterly opposed to any such alliance.

Kishore had last week met Akhilesh Yadav’s father and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav at his New Delhi residence. The meeting, which went on for more than four hours was also attended by party’s national general secretary Amar Singh.

Sources said Kishore had sought an audience with the 43-year-old chief minister last week but it was not granted. Things only changed on Monday after Mulayam Singh called up his son and asked him “not to be rigid about meeting Kishore”.

After the meeting, Akhilesh said he would speak his mind on any alliance at the party forum and that he left the matter to his father.

He also said that if SP and Congress ready for an alliance, how can someone stop it. The state unit of the Congress here too appears uncomfortable with the idea of joining hands with the SP but are toeing the line as they to do not want the minority vote to be fragmented.