Talks for a Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance have failed, a senior SP leader said on Friday, indicating differences between the two over sharing of seats for the seven-phase assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh starting early next month.
The sharp divisions were evident when the SP released a list of 191 candidates that included several seats held by the Congress and those falling in Amethi and Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituencies, the pocket boroughs of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
An angry Congress summoned an emergency meeting of its senior central and state’s leaders in Delhi and called back UP chief Raj Babbar who had landed in Lucknow to announce an alliance. The meeting is being held at the party’s war room at 15, Gurudwara Rakabganj Road.
The 191 seats are among 209 constituencies going to the polls in the first three phases starting February 11.
The list also includes party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother Shivpal, who was locked in a bitter power struggle with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav till a few days ago.
SP vice president Kironmoy Nanda said negotiations with the Congress on seat-sharing have “failed”.
“We offered them 54 (seats) and were willing to concede 25 more but have not got any response from the Congress so far. The Congress is not coming to the negotiating table now.”
The SP was not unwilling to concede Amethi or Lucknow Cantonment to the Congress. “But at the same time, the doors were still open for negotiations…the party will withdraw its candidates on seats where Congress has sitting MLAs,” he added. The party has named Mulayam’s younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav from Lucknow Cantt.
However, SP parliamentarian Naresh Agarwal described Nanda’s comments as “his personal opinion”.
“SP national president Akhilesh Yadav to take final decision,” ANI quoted Agarwal as saying.
Raj Babbar said any alliance “should be done taking the pride of workers into care”.
“Talks are on for alliance, no obstruction so far,” he added.
The SP had on Thursday ruled out an alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which was earlier tipped to the third partner in the conglomeration for the seven-phase polls in the politically crucial state.
Besides Shivpal Yadav from Jaswant Nagar, the SP has also named minister Azam Khan’s son Abdullah from Swar. MP Naresh Agarwal’s son Nitin will contest from Hardoi.
Other loyalists of Mulayam and Shivpal also figure in the list which hs 51 Muslim candidates.
Congress-held seats for which the SP has name candidates include Shamli, Mathura, Deoband and Bulandshahr.
UP Congress legislature party leader Pradeep Mathur, who represents Mathura, said he will file his nomination his the constituency.
Deoband MLA Mawiya Ali, who quit the Congress recently, has been named the SP candidate from the same constituency.
The list has several young candidates and new faces, seen as Akhilesh Yadav protégées who have been speaking about grooming a new generation of leaders in a party dominated by veterans.
On Thursday, an SP leader from western UP, Shahnawaz Rana, who was the party nominee from Muzaffarnagar, joined the Congress. A former MLA from Merapur, Rana wields considerable clout in the region and can give a tough fight even as an independent candidate, sources said.