Even as some enthusiasts are working on an electoral alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress for the forthcoming 2017 assembly elections, an analysis of the 2012 poll results present some insurmountable grey areas.
Going by the winner and the runner-up formula, often adopted for the sharing of assembly seats, 403 seats should be divided between the three partners (assuming Rashtriya Lok Dal is also an ally) in the order of 286 to the SP, 41 to the Congress and 18 to the RLD.
On the remaining 37 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) were either winner or runner-up. And the contentious seats are the 21 on which the Congress and SP were either winner or runner up.
The solution sounds simple but actually it is not considering the importance of the seats in question. Six of the 21 seats fall in the Gandhis’ stronghold, said a source in the party.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has often spared the two Lok Sabha seats from a contest on a quid pro quo basis but in an assembly election, every seat will matter. For instance, Congress would want to contest the Amethi assembly constituency where Mulayam’s favourite minister Gayatri Prajapati was declared elected. He defeated Amita Singh, wife of senior Congress leader Sanjay Singh.
In fact, party sources say that the Congress high command would want to contest all the 10 assembly segments that are part of Gandhis’ Lok Sabha constituencies - Rae Bareli and Amethi.
After the party’s dismal performance in 2012, Priyanka Gandhi had conceded that the Congress’ defeat in the two prime constituencies sent a wrong signal across the nation.
Another difficult seat could be the Marihan assembly constituency in east Uttar Pradesh where Lalitesh Pati Tripathi is trying to recreate the magic of the famous Tripathi family in the region, including parts of the Bihar. Lalitesh is Kamlapati Tripathi’s great grandson and has been described as Rahul Gandhi’s yuva (youth) face.
Also, on many of these seats, the victory margin ranges between a few hundred to 2,000 votes. Party sources indicate that often talks fail on few prime seats even after the bulk of seats have been agreed upon.
In fact, Congressmen are sceptical about the seat-sharing plans as efforts in the past have always come to a nought. The talks for the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 did not fructify. Mulayam had found an unnatural ally in Kalyan Singh.
Thus, many believe the alliance talks are on to ensure that the BSP does not enter into an electoral understanding with the Congress to check a resurgent BJP and defeat arch-rival SP.
Former chief minister Mayawati, who has already tasted alliance with the Congress in the mid-1990s, would prefer an independent trek.
Though much water has flown down the Gomti since then, she is not inclined as in her own assessment seat sharing helps the poll partner more than her party, for the simple reason that while her own votes are transferable, others fail to transfer their votes to the BSP.
It is common knowledge that while the younger leadership of the two parties may be willing to go in for an alliance, the Congress may push a wholesome plan up to the 2019 general elections.
Some senior leaders insist that would happen only if the Congress agreed to play second fiddle to the SP in state elections and vice versa. Moreover, a key position will have to be offered to the senior Yadav.
Seniors share a mutual mistrust for each other and “Congress cannot be trusted” is Mulayam’s repeated statement. Congress too finds Mulayam undependable having betrayed several times.
While Rahul’s voice will prevail in Congress, it’s hard to say whether Akhilesh Yadav would have the same say in the SP where his father is seemingly siding with his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav.