The Samajwadi Party’s unilateral announcement naming candidates for 29 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, including that of actor Sanjay Dutt from Lucknow, is a decision that the Congress is unlikely to find agreeable.
The premature announcement of SP’s first list marks another downturn in what has been a blow-hot-blow-cold SP-Congress relationship since the former bailed out the UPA after the Left had pulled out.
Seat sharing was always going to be a contentious issue and the SP list contains names of constituencies that the Congress had been eyeing, like Shahjehanpur and Rampur.
Even Sanjay Dutt’s candidature, whom the Congress apparently did not want to field, is contentious as Dutt had not been keen to contest the elections as a SP nominee, sources said.
SP has also refused to concede its demand for some seats in the Bundelkhand region, where the Congress has been trying to create a base for itself — largely at the initiative of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi. The list contains names of candidates for three seats in the Bundelkhand region: from Banda, Jalone and Hamirpur. The SP already represents the seat at Jhansi and is unlikely to concede it to the Congress.
Meanwhile, SP leader Amar Singh persisted with his tough posturing against the UPA for its failure to take concrete action against Pakistan in the wake of 26/11. He virtually handed out a five-day ultimatum to the government to take steps in the direction of carrying out attacks against the PoK-based terror camps.
After attending a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board, Singh told a press conference that the government must act before January 14, failing which the SP will review its position on supporting the UPA government.
The next meeting of the parliamentary board has been tentatively scheduled for January 16, when the SP’s second list of candidates from Uttar Pradesh is likely to be announced.