Congress leader Pramod Tiwari Wednesday termed as "rumours" the reports of the BSP and the SP joining hands for the 2019 polls. He said Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav had not officially announced their alliance so far. Responding to a query, the former Rajya Sabha member added that the Congress did not want division of votes against the BJP in the upcoming general elections.
"As per my information, neither Mayawati ji nor Akhilesh ji has officially announced about it (alliance). I think these are all rumours...I want to thank Mayawati ji and Akhilesh ji for supporting Congress in forming governments in Rajasthan and Madya Pradesh," he told reporters here. "As far as Congress is concerned, it does not want division of votes against the BJP," he added.
Tiwari also hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had Sunday termed the previous defence deals by the Congress government as "tainted" and dubbed Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrochi and alleged middleman Christian Michel as "uncles" (of Congress).
Speaking in Rae Bareli on December 16, Modi had said, "I want to know from the Congress as to why it is agitated and speaking lies repeatedly. Is it because there is no Quattrochi mama or Christian Michel in the defence deals done by the BJP government."
On a query over the allegation that the Congress delayed the Rafale deal by over a decade, Tiwari said there was no delay. "The actual process of open bidding started in 2009 and the deal was about to get completed...We pursued better fighter planes, better price and a better deal," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)