Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has said that the Congress was entitled to 12 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, but SP was willing to concede 15 constituencies for the party in pursuance of strategies to put up a combined formation against Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Emboldened by the party’s success at wresting the Bhadohi assembly seat from the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the recent by-elections, the SP chief stepped up the bargain pitch vis-à-vis seat sharing talks with the Congress by announcing candidates for two more parliamentary seats on Tuesday.
With the declaration of the names of Chandrabhushan Singh and Akshay Pratap Singh as the candidates for the Farukhabad and Pratapgarh Lok Sabha seats, the SP has announced candidates for 64 parliamentary seats in Uttar Pradesh. Discussions on seat sharing are now possible only on the 16 seats that have been left open for discussions.
Today’s incident of the terror attacks against Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan has provoked the SP chief into accusing the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government of lacking with the “willpower, commitment and courage” to fight terror. “As long as the political class remains governed by the thirst of power, terrorism will remain”, Yadav told reporters in New Delhi.
Demanding a meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) to discuss the terror situation in India and the neighborhood, Yadav did not miss out on an opportunity to take a swipe at the UPA government. “In the last five years, one has not known whether the NDC exists”, he said.
At the same time, Yadav maintained that seat sharing talks with the Congress were on course, while expressing the confidence that the proposed alliance between the two parties would materialize “very shortly”.
Sources said that the Congress is determined to contest no less than 24 seats in UP, while the SP is unwilling to concede about 15 seats to the party. During their meeting on Sunday, Congress President Sonia Gandhi is understood to have suggested that 17 seats could be left for the Congress as part of the alliance, while the party would field candidates for the remaining number of seven seats – on which friendly contests could be held.
The SP chief ruled out suggestions for “friendly contests”, but he remains to respond to the Congress leaders on the formula suggested by Gandhi.
Ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Bhadohi bye-election victory has come as a big morale booster for the SP, while strengthening its bargaining position vis-à-vis the Congress. SP candidate Madhubala Pasi defeated the BSP’s Amar Singh Saroj by a substantial 5365 votes, while the Congress candidate Suresh Gautam polled a mere 2275 votes and was placed 7th. The seat had been held by the BSP.
Extracting a seat at the expense of the BSP in the current scenario is achievement enough for the SP. The victory also provides an opportunity for the SP to debunk the argument that its base had shrunk after the party’s decision to align with the “Babri-tainted” Kalyan Singh. In recent weeks, such arguments were being tossed about in Congress circles.