Prayagraj/ New Delhi: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has virtually ruled out accommodating the Congress in the SP-BSP alliance. 

This puts to rest buzz that the two regional players in Uttar Pradesh may rework their alliance to make space for the Grand Old Party after the announcement of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's formal entry into the electoral politics.

On Sunday, when Akhilesh visited Prayagraj he was asked if the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) intend to include the Congress in the alliance. Speculation has been rife ever since Akhilesh praised the nomination of Priyanka as the Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming general election. 

Akhilesh, however, put an end to the speculation by saying, "The alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party is not just an alliance of parties, but an alliance of people. And we have trust in that alliance succeeding." 

The SP chief said that if the Congress was serious about defeating the BJP, it should support the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh. 

In other words, what Akhilesh said was that there was no room for the Congress in the alliance, and his praise of Priyanka entering politics was done as a courtesy, nothing more than that.

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Congress president and Priyanka's brother Rahul Gandhi had expressed unhappiness at being left out of the SP-BSP alliance. Earlier this month, Rahul said, “We are trying to bring the Opposition together... I have heard some statements in the media (about the alliance)... I just want to say again — to underestimate the Congress in UP is a big mistake.” Even Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi warned of a "dangerous mistake" if the Congress left out in Uttar Pradesh. 

However, that was before Priyanka formally entered politics. Her nomination as the Congress general secretary of UP east was tipped to be a gamechanger. But the snub by Akhilesh makes it almost certain that the SP and BSP will go to the polls together and not involve the Congress in it.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), however, may just be accommodated. The RLD has been given three seats so far, but is bargaining for four. The Mayawati-Akhilesh duo, however, have left Raebareli and Amethi — both Gandhi dynasty bastions — for the Congress even though they are not in an alliance.

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The SP had hinted even earlier that the Congress will have to fight on its own in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming general election. Only days before, close Akhilesh aide, Kiranmay Nanda, had called the Congress an "insignificant player". Nanda said, “The SP-BSP alliance is the main force which will take on the BJP. The Congress might be there in one or two seats, it is for the Congress to decide what position it wishes to see itself in." 

Can Rahul who has been so far pretty lenient on the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh continue with the sobriety or go all out in India's most populous state that holds the key on who forms the government at the Centre in 2019? That is the question on everyone's mind right now.