Lucknow | Jagran Politics Desk: Softening its stand ahead of the crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Sunday said that it is open to allying with small parties. However, the party has clarified that it will not ally with Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

In an interview with news agency PTI, Congress' Uttar Pradesh chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said that the grand old party is the main challenger to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and would win the polls under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

"The Congress' stand on alliances is clear, we will forge alliances only with small parties. We will not even think about aligning again with big parties," he said. "We are moving forward as a strong opposition force and under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi we will win the polls, and form the government in 2022".

The Congress had contested the previous assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh with Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party. However, the alliance failed miserably after the BJP won over 300 seats in the 400-member state assembly. Since then, the two parties have generally stayed away from each other.

Last month, Akhilesh Yadav had also opened its door for an alliance. However, Akhilesh had said that the Samajwadi Party will only ally with "small parties" for the Uttar Pradesh polls. "Doors of our party are open for all small parties. Many smaller parties are already with us. More will come with us," he told PTI in an interview.

Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati has already announced that her party will contest upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand alone. However, the BSP has allied with the Akali Dal for the assembly polls in Punjab. In Punjab, the BSP, as per the seat-sharing deal, will contest on 20 seats while the Akali Dal will field candidates on 97 seats.

Assembly elections in India are slated to take place in five states -- Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand -- in February or March next year.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma