Daring the Congress once again, the Samajwadi Party (SP) released a fresh list of five candidates for the Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh on Monday - bringing the total of declared names of candidates to 51.
Harboring grievances about the Congress having "poached" some of its legislators in Madhya Pradesh, the SP also sought to pay back the Congress in its own coin by announcing the induction of former UP Congress Committee Vice President Mohammed Aslam Khan.
The significance of today's list, announced by SP general secretary Amar Singh, relates to the Gonda parliamentary constituency - from where the party has fielded its sitting member Kirti Vardhan Singh. The seat had been on the Congress wish list, as the party had desired to field rebel SP member Beni Prasad Verma from the seat.
Leaders of both parties maintain that seat-sharing talks are continuing. But, after the unilateral announcement of names of candidates by the SP over past few days, there is very little left on the negotiation table. Of the remaining number of 29 constituencies that are open for discussions, the SP has sitting MPs from four seats. It is unlikely to concede these seats to the Congress.
Effectively, discussions are now possible over about 25 seats. Besides the nine constituencies from where the Congress has sitting members, the SP camp has a lenient attitude towards the Congress demand to contest the Sultanpur seat. The SP is also reported to have offered either of the two seats to the Congress: Bulandsahar or Gautam Budh Nagar.
With the SP adamant about conceding no more than 15 seats to the Congress, the option of "friendly fights" over a larger number of constituencies is being favorably considered by the two parties, a senior SP leader said. Such "friendly fights" indicate an understanding between to the two parties to transfer their votes to a candidate that has a better prospect of winning - depending on the way the wind blows.
The SP has fielded Riaz Ahmed from Pilibhit, Shahid Manzoor from Meerut, Ram Kishun Yadav from Chandouli and Raj Kishore Singh from Basti - besides Kirti Vardhan Singh from Gonda.