Even as some enthusiasts are working on an electoral alliance between the SP and the Congress for the forthcoming 2017 elections, an analysis of the 2012 assembly election results puts forth insurmountable grey areas.
Going by the winner and the runner-up formula, often adopted for the sharing of assembly seats, 403 seats should be divided between the three partners (assuming Rashtriya Lok Dal is also an ally) in the order of 286 to the SP, 41 to the Congress and 18 to the RLD. On remaining 37 seats, BJP or BSP were either winner or runner-up.
The contentious seats are 21 seats, on which Congress and SP were either winner or runner up.
The solution sounds simple, but actually it is not considering the importance of the seats in question. Six of the 21 seats fall in Gandhis’ stronghold, said a source in the party.
The SP chief Mulayam has often spared the two Lok Sabha seats from a contest on a quid pro quo basis, but in an assembly election every seat will matter. For instance, Congress will want to contest the Amethi assembly constituency from where Mulayam’s favourite minister Gayatri Prajapati was declared elected. He had defeated Amita Singh, wife of Congress senior leader Sanjay Singh.
In fact, party sources reveal the Congress high command will want to contest all the 10 assembly segments that are part of Gandhis’ Lok Sabha constituencies -- Rae Bareli and Amethi.
After party’s dismal performance in 2012, Priyanka Gandhi had conceded that the Congress defeat in the two prime constituencies sent a wrong signal across the nation.
Another difficult seat could be Marihan assembly constituency in east UP from where Lalitesh Pati Tripathi is trying to recreate the magic of the famous Tripathi family in the region, including parts of Bihar. Kamlapati Tripathi is his great grandfather. He is described as Rahul Gandhi’s yuva face.
Also, on many of these seats, the victory margin also ranges between a few hundred to 2000 votes.
Party sources indicate that often talks fail on a few prime seats even after bulk of seats have been agreed upon.
In fact, Congressmen are sceptical about seat sharing plans as efforts in the past have always come to a naught. The talks for the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 had not fructified. Mulayam had found an unnatural ally in Kalyan Singh.
Thus many believe the alliance talks are on to ensure that the BSP does not enter into an electoral understanding with the Congress to check a resurgent BJP and defeat arch rival Samajwadi Party.
Former chief minister Mayawati, who has already tasted alliance with the Congress in mid 1990’s would prefer an independent trek.
Though much water has flown down the Gomti since then, she is not inclined as in her own assessment seat sharing helps the poll partner more than her party, for the simple reason that while her own votes are transferable, others fail to transfer their votes to the BSP.
It is common knowledge that while younger leadership of the two parties may be willing to go in for an alliance, the Congress may push a wholesome plan up to 2019 general elections.
Some senior leaders insist that would happen only if the Congress agreed to play second fiddle to the SP in state elections and vice versa in Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, a key position will have to be offered to senior Yadav.
Seniors share a mutual mistrust for each other. “Congress cannot be trusted” is Mulayam’s repeated statement. On the other hand, Congress finds Mulayam undependable having betrayed several times.
While Rahul’s voice will prevail in the Congress, it’s hard to say whether Akhilesh would have the same say in the SP where his father is seemingly siding with his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav.