The Congress and the Samajwadi Party are likely to contest the 2009 Lok Sabha elections together in Uttar Pradesh.
Highly placed sources in both parties said that the decision had been taken after the realisation that going separately would split their common vote in favour of the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
A senior Samajwadi Party leader close to former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed that the party could offer 15-20 Lok Sabha seats to the Congress as part of a pre-poll arrangement out of the total 76 in the state. The Congress now has nine seats while the Samajwadi Party has 35.
"The Samajwadi Party and the Congress contesting together would help consolidate the Muslim vote not only in Uttar Pradesh but also elsewhere in the country," the leader said.
The Congress-Samajwadi Party tie up would be supplemented by the coming together of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RLD) leader and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav, now that they appear to have buried the hatchet a la the Congress and Samajwadi Party.
Since the Samajwadi Party, RJD and the Congress had a common Muslim vote bank, "there being together would help in the national scenario also", the leader said.
Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Yadav had been at loggerheads for years and have campaigned and fielded candidates against one another. Mulayam Yadav would do so in Bihar and Lalu Prasad in Uttar Pradesh.
Simultaneously, there are reports that Mulayam Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh are talking peace. They had fallen apart over differences in the wake of Ajit Singh moving closer to the Congress.
Ajit Singh is an influential Jat leader in western Uttar Pradesh, while the region has a sizeable Muslim vote.
"The Samajwadi Party and RLD, along with the Congress, coming together in western Uttar Pradesh could help consolidate Jats and Muslims," a Congress leader close to the development told IANS.
The Samajwadi Party was willing to offer five to six Lok Sabha seats to RLD in western Uttar Pradesh. "We are also talking to Sonelal Patel of Apna Dal. His party has a good influence over the Kurmi community, in eastern Uttar Pradesh," said the leader.
"We could give them half a dozen seats to contest," the source said.