The Congress has postponed its first list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh elections because of “some tangible forward movement” in its talks for an alliance with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP).
At the same time, the Congress has kept its “plan B” ready in case the negotiations break down over sharing of seats.
Akhilesh’s father and SP patriarch, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had walked out of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance before the 2015 Bihar elections following differences over the number of seats given to his party to contest. The anti-BJP coalition won the polls.
The Congress’s central leadership hopes that an alliance with Akhilesh could be formalised soon and a tie-up would help both parties.
The national party has been relegated to the state’s political margins after being voted out of power in 1989, while the SP is battling a bitter family feud with Akhilesh on one side and his father and uncle on the other.
The Congress is identifying and short-listing its contestants for all the 403 seats in the assembly. The seven-phase staggered elections in Uttar Pradesh will begin on February 11.
Party sources indicated that backchannel talks are moving in the “right direction” and a meeting between Akhilesh and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi might happen to seal the deal.
Besides, the Congress’s central election committee (CEC) headed by party president Sonia Gandhi will meet extensively on January 10 to finalise candidates for Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand — three of the five states that will vote for a new government this February and March.
The Congress poll panel is keeping UP out of the meeting’s agenda, hoping that an alliance with Akhilesh might work out.
The CEC is expected to clear candidates for the remaining 40 of the 117 seats in Punjab, and all 40 seats in Goa, besides a bulk of the 70 seats in Uttarakhand on Tuesday.
In Goa, the Congress is split on having an alliance with the Goa Forward Party. While state unit president Luizinho Falerio is against a tie-up, former chief minister Digambar Kamat and his supporters are pressing for an alliance not only with the Goa Forward Party but also with the Nationalist Congress Party and smaller groups.