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Will UP follow Bihar in forming Mahagathbandhan for 2017 elections?


Lucknow: After the impressive electoral victory of the Grand Alliance or “Mahagathbandhan” in neighboring Bihar, murmurs for a similar political arrangement ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh have begun, though it is highly unlikely.

While senior state leaders of different political leanings privately expressed the hope that “something or the other should be done to prevent the BJP from capturing power in Uttar Pradesh”, the animosity between Mulayam Singh Yadav of the ruling Samajwadi Party and former chief minister Mayawati of the opposition Bahujan Samaj Party will prevent such a political alignment in the state.

“Two years ago, Mulayam spoke on similar lines, but Behen-ji (Mayawati) snubbed him, which speaks volumes of the hindrances to such a tie-up,” said veteran journalist Rajiv Rajan Jha.

Jha pointed out that Mayawati rarely forgave anyone and had not yet forgotten the incident of 1994 when alleged SP goons and supporters reportedly tried to kill her after their coalition fell apart.

A close aide of Mayawati concurred and said she “could be open to other political forces but not the Samajwadi Party”.

Naseemuddin Siddiqui, the closest aide of the Dalit leader, said that the BSP would not be part of any alliance in Uttar Pradesh, neither now nor in the future.

“The question does not arise. The people have rejected the BJP in Delhi and now in Bihar, but we have not forgotten what SP goons did to our leader in 1994,” the BSP general secretary said adding that the BSP would contest the assembly polls in 2017 on its own.

Ajit Singh, president of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, has for now ruled out the prospects of a grand alliance in UP and said his party would field candidates for all 400-plus assembly seats.

Singh said the grand alliance clicked in Bihar as there was no major anti-incumbency sentiment against Nitish Kumar whereas the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh was a “discredited one”.

Shivpal Yadav, younger brother of Mulayam Singh and state public works department minister who floated the idea of a grand alliance in UP, later said his party believed in maintaining equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP. However, he said it was not averse to an electoral understanding with like-minded forces driven by socialist ideology. He ruled out any tie-up with arch rival BSP.

The Congress, which is almost redundant in Uttar Pradesh politics too, is not excited about a repeat of the grand alliance experience in the state.

State Congress president Nirmal Khatri said the party workers’ sentiment was against any such tie-up, adding that his party would go on its own in the assembly elections.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems unperturbed by the murmurs.

State BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said such murmurs suggested that the ruling SP had lost confidence that Akhilesh Yadav would take the party to electoral success in 2017 and also that the BJP was still a force to reckon with in Uttar Pradesh.

(Mohit Dubey, IANS)

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Iran invites Pakistan to join Chabahar project with India

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Iran has invited Pakistan to join Chabahar port project
  • It is a very crucial port of great importance
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan have already signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has invited Pakistan to participate in the Chabahar Port project that connects India to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, a leading Pakistani daily reported on Tuesday.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The move may be seen as Zarif’s bid to allay concerns here over the Indian involvement in the Iranian port, Dawn online reported. The Iranian minister also, meanwhile, extended the invitation to China.

“We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar,” Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, said while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Monday, according to the daily.

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan. In November 2017, India delievered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

Zarif had earlier held bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif and addressed a trade conference. The visiting Foreign Minister is being accompanied by a large trade delegation from Iran.

He also said that Gwadar Port and Chabahar Port needed to be linked through sea and land routes for development of deprived Eastern and South-eastern Iran and South Western Pakistan. “We are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to participate in that,” Zarif said.

Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons

He also said that the Chabahar port project was not meant to “encircle Pakistan … strangulate anybody”, adding that Iran would not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory, much like Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Iran.

Zarif likened Iran’s relations with India to Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia. “Our relations with India, just like Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, are not against Islamabad as we understand Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not against Iran.” IANS