In continuation of the Congress-Samajwadi Party (SP) bonhomie ever since the latter won power in Uttar Pradesh early this year, it seems the two parties will go back to not fielding candidates against members of each other’s first families in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Earlier this week, SP’s national president Mulayam Singh Yadav appointed 58 observers for the parliamentary poll, but none was given charge of either Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli or her son Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi, said a party source. “Only netaji (Mulayam) can say if he has decided not to field candidates in Rae Bareli and Amethi,” said SP’s state spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary.
In 2009, the Congress for the first time not only fielded a candidate (Raj Babbar) against a Yadav family member—Dimple Yadav (Mulayam’s daughter-in-law) but also defeated her in the Firozabad Lok Sabha by-poll.
Akhilesh Yadav was furious, as Mulayam’s son felt the Congress had violated an unwritten pact that the SP had always honoured. So, the SP retaliated in 2012 by not only fielding candidates, but also virtually wiping out the Congress in Rae Bareli and Amethi-Sultanpur.
With the SP gaining an absolute majority in the assembly, now their relationship has thawed.
For instance, Yadav ditched Mamata Banerjee and supported the UPA’s presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee. In a quid pro quo, the cash-strapped government of Akhilesh Yadav was offered 20% hike in the annual central assistance. And, the day after, the SP declared its support to the UPA’s vice-presidential candidate Hamid Ansari for his second term in office.
Earlier in June, the Congress did not field any candidate against Dimple, who won the Kannauj Lok Sabha by-poll unopposed. “It is obvious that netaji is returning the favour,” said an SP leader.