Akhilesh praises Rahul, sets off speculation of tie up

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today praised Rahul Gandhi terming him a "good human being" and said he can forge a friendship with the Congress leader, setting off speculation about a political realignment in the state. Rahul, who has been targeting the Centre during his ongoing 'Kisan Mahayatra' in the poll-bound state while only making veiled attacks on the SP government, had recently used similar encomium for Akhilesh. "Rahulji bahut acche insan hain, bahut acche ladke hain. UP me jyada rahenge to hamari bhi dosti unse hogi...do acche log mil jaye to kya kharab baat hai? (Rahul is a good human being and a good boy. If he spends more time in UP, we can also have friendship with him...If two good human beings meet, what's wrong in that)," Akhilesh said. In a similar bonhomie, Rahul had recently said, "Look at the young Chief Minister here. Akhilesh theek ladka hai (he is well-meaning boy) but his government isn't working."  Addressing Congress workers here on July 29, Rahul had said Uttar Pradesh has "not progressed" in the 27 years his party had been out of power. "You voted with your heart for a youth (in the 2012 elections). Akhilesh theek ladka hai but he failed to deliver what you wanted," the Congress vice-president had remarked. Speaking in the same vein, Akhilesh today said they can forge a "friendship" if Rahul spends more time in the state. However, he ducked a question on whether his affability with Rahul meant a prospective pre-poll alliance with the Congress in the state. Asked about chances of SP-Congress coalition, he said, "Aap isme rajniti kyun dekh rahe hain (Why are you seeing politics in it?)"  Senior SP leader Kiranmoy Nanda said SP would go it alone in UP. "Congress is hardly any force to reckon with in the state with which one can think of a tie-up," he said here. Rahul avoiding criticism of the SP government forced BJP state chief Keshav Prasad Maurya to question his "silence". "Why is Rahul silent on the misdeeds of the SP?" asked Maurya. "He is blaming the central government for the misery of farmers and backwardness in UP," he said.