The seat-sharing talks between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress received a big jolt on Monday as the SP has refused to concede more than a dozen seats in Uttar Pradesh for the parliamentary elections next year.
What’s more, to Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s suggestion that RLD leader Ajit Singh be included in the proposed secular alliance, SP leaders said the Congress should share its own quota with Ajit Singh.
Finally, the two parties have decided that instead of an agreement on a seat-to-seat basis, the two parties should try to reach a ‘common ground’ in the initial phase. They will also exchange the lists of their favoured constituencies.
In exchange of its support to the government in the July 22 trust vote, the SP has set out its terms: let SP retain all the 39 seats in UP, with Congress remaining a lesser partner. But a section of the Congress leadership is strongly advocating a “go-it-alone” policy for UP.
The Congress-SP hard bargain is the result of the uncertainties of coalition politics. Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan and Mulayam have slowly captured the space vacated by the Congress over past decades in UP and Bihar. But the three leaders also face a common challenge today: the Mayawati juggernaut.
Over the past few past weeks, the “Big Three” have been working at re-jigging the political arrangements by trying to form a “grand alliance” that can prevent Mayawati. The specifics of the arrangement have been discussed at two informal meetings between Mulayam and Paswan recently, while Lalu Prasad has been kept in the loop.
Explicit signs of the axis have surfaced recently, when Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Mulayam’s SP staged a joint campaign demanding better compensation for land acquired at Badalpur in Greater Noida lately. Earlier, the “Big Three” had also shared the podium at a press conference in New Delhi.