1Prospects of a “grand secular alliance” in Uttar Pradesh brightened on Tuesday, with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav saying a decision on a tie-up with the Congress will be taken in a “day or two”.

“Decision on alliance [with the Congress] will be taken in a day or two,” he said, buoyed by the Election Commission’s order recognising him as the president of Samajwadi Party (SP) and allowing him to retain the ‘cycle’ symbol.

He was responding to a question on the possibility of tying up with the Congress during an informal chat with mediapersons at his residence in Lucknow.

SP general secretary Ramgopal Yadav expressed the hope of a grand secular alliance to fight elections in the State. He said that the final decision on forging an alliance with the Congress would be taken by Mr. Akhilesh.

“It is Mr. Akhilesh Yadav who will decide on the alliance. But I am hopeful it will happen,” said Mr. Ramgopal, who has been a staunch supporter of Mr. Akhilesh in the intra-party tussle.

Giving enough indications that the Congress is willing for such a tie-up, its spokesman and former Union Minister R.P.N. Singh was among the first to hail the Election Commission order, saying it showed that Mr. Akhilesh enjoyed “90 per cent support” in the organisation, as also among SP legislators.

With the poll process set in motion after the issue of notification on Tuesday, hectic efforts are underway to hammer out such an alliance, with the Congress being offered 90 to 100 seats by the Akhilesh-led SP, which is also trying to rope in Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) as a junior partner.

Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mr. Ramgopal Yadav were said to be resolving some disputes over certain seats.

Uttar Pradesh has 403 Assembly constituencies where Mr. Akhilesh’s party would be contesting the majority of seats and was likely to have RLD as a junior partner in western Uttar Pradesh, which was once a stronghold of Mr. Ajit Singh.

The three parties will have to race against time to finalise the seat arrangements in the next few days as the western U.P. goes to the polls in the first two phases on February 11 and 15.

Sources in the SP said the list of the party candidates would be released in a day or two.

There were reports that the three parties would come out with a common minimum programme.

Leaders from the three parties insist that the main task iis to stop the BJP from coming to power.

In the 2015 Assembly elections in Bihar, the Congress joined hands with the JD(U) and the RJD to form a grand alliance, which caused a major upset for the BJP-led NDA, which had won 31 of the 40 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the State.