Lucknow: In a major jolt to the Congress party ahead of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the party national secretary Imran Masood on Monday formally announced that that he would join Samajwadi Party (SP) along with his supporters.
Masood, considered a heavyweight in Saharanpur, has called the poll race a "direct fight between SP and BJP" and, hence, he chose to "stand with Akhilesh Yadav now".
"I got respect and honour in Congress, and Priyanka Gandhi ji gave me a lot of opportunities to work. But at the moment, it is important to stop BJP and there is no other alternative except SP," Masood added, without revealing the seat from which he will contest
Under the prevailing political conditions, he said that it is necessary to support the SP to prevent the division of votes of like-minded people and provide good governance in Uttar Pradesh to put it on the path of development and progress.
Masood said that although Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was working hard in Uttar Pradesh, the party is weak is the state.
SP spokesman Abdul Hafiz Gandhi said: "This trend of people from various parties moving towards SP is an indication of who is coming to power. Most of the disgruntled leaders of the BSP, the Congress, and the BJP are joining our party. There must be a strong wave in favour of the SP, and that is why leaders from other parties are trusting the visionary leadership of Akhilesh Yadav."
Several leaders have left the Congress in recent months. From Jitin Prasada, to Annu Tandon to Laliteshpati Tripathi, these leaders have expressed their resentment at the leadership's failure to address issues.
Masood had been seeking a tie-up between the Congress and SP for the upcoming Assembly polls.
He had won in 2007 as an independent and fought from Nakur in the 2012 Assembly polls on a Congress ticket, but lost. He joined the SP in 2013, only to return to the Congress the following year.