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Friend or foe? Keep guessing

The rift between the Congress and the SP widened further on Saturday. SP leader Amar Singh threatened to fight the Congress in “some seats”, while Congress’ Digvijay Singh countered by threatening to put up candidates in all the 80 seats in UP, reports Nagendar Sharma.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2009 01:49 IST
Nagendar Sharma

The rift between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) widened further on Saturday.

SP leader Amar Singh threatened to fight the Congress in “some seats”, while Congress’ Digvijay Singh countered by threatening to put up candidates in all the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh.

But both are waiting for the other to blink first, following the collapse of the talks on seat sharing for the Lok Sabha elections.

Amar Singh followed up his Friday’s allegation of the Congress having authored the “obituary” of the alliance by saying, “If they are putting up candidates in our existing seats simply because they have candidates for some seats, we can also think of doing so.”

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh promptly returned the fire, saying, “ In case the two parties fail to reach an alliance, we are ready to contest in all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP and another list of names may be announced soon.”

Digvijay Singh, however, held out a glimmer of hope. He said, “We are still willing to discuss the seat-sharing arrangement, but the other side also needs to reciprocate.”

Admitting that friendly fights in seven-eight seats looked likely, Digvijay said, “It is politically important to have friendly fights for some seats so that the Congress and the SP remain in the fray rather than allowing the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) or any other party to dominate in a particular seat.”

But Amar Singh refused to buy the argument. “I don’t want to insult the Congress, but it should assess its status in the state. Wherever the Congress appears stronger than my party, the SP will support it against the BSP and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).”

In the last general elections, the Congress contested alone and won nine seats, while the BJP managed to win 10.

The SP, which put up an impressive performance in the last elections and won 36 seats from UP, is in a fix. Having lost the state assembly to Mayawati’s BSP, it desperately wants ride on the alliance, but also does not want to concede too much.