The gap is narrowing. With Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav making a ‘take it or leave it’ offer of 15 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 Lok Sabha seats to the Congress, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi having scaled down her party’s demand to 17, the chances of a Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in the state grew distinctly brighter on Tuesday.
The SP also announced its candidates for two more seats, Pratapgarh and Farrukhabad. Its list of declared nominees in UP now stands at 64, leaving just 16 seats which it can possibly set aside for the Congress.
The Congress still claimed it wanted 24 seats, but sources revealed that, at her Sunday meeting with Yadav, Sonia had said she was prepared to settle for 17, with both parties putting up candidates and engaging in ‘friendly fights’ in the seven others.
“An alliance will materialise very shortly,” said Yadav. Sources, however, claimed that he was opposed to any ‘friendly fights’.
The SP’s morale has been boosted by its unexpected win in the Bhadohi assembly bypoll on Sunday, where it wrested the seat from the Bahujan Samaj Party, while the Congress candidate polled a mere 2,275 and was placed seventh.
“It gives the lie to the propaganda of certain people that associating with Kalyan Singh has affected our vote base,” said an SP leader.
Yadav continued to take swipes at the Congress, this time referring to the terror attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore. “The Congress lacks the will power, commitment and courage to fight terror,” he said.
Yadav also sought a National Development Council meeting to discuss terrorism. “In the past five years, one has hardly been aware of the existence of the NDC,” he said.