As Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress inched closer to finalizing a seat-distribution formula, the distrust between Jat and Muslim community in western UP post Muzaffarnagar riots is said to be posing a hurdle in inking a deal with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Ajit Singh.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav remained closeted with party general secretary Ramgopal Yadav on Wednesday for the 140 assembly seats that go to polls on February 11 and 15. A formal announcement of the alliance is expected by Thursday with Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad expected to arrive later this evening in Lucknow.
“Muslims in the region are unlikely to go for RLD because of the lack of trust with Jat community. Riots have also affected SP’s clout in the region. Hence, they see the Congress as their only bet that can wrest power from the BJP at the Centre in 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” says Athar Hussein, director the Centre for Objective Research and Development
According to sources, the RLD, which has considerable support in Western UP, has reportedly also upped its demand is not willing to settle for anything less than 30 seats. The SP has offered it 20 seats. “We are not in touch with the RLD. The seat-sharing details between the SP and Congress you will get to know very shortly,” said SP vice president Kiranmoi Nanda told Hindustan Times.
SP patriarch Mulayam has already given a must-have list of his own 38 candidates to CM on Tuesday. The list initially included brother Shivpal Yadav’s son Aditya from Jaswant Nagar. But later Shivpal’s name was replaced by that of his son. “The earlier formula that all sitting SP legislators will be fielded again no longer applies now,” said party sources as the caste arithmetic has changed with the forging of alliance with Congress and possibly with RLD also.
Several ticket seekers, including at least two UP ministers, who went to meet Akhilesh Yadav to press their claim were denied entry into the CM’s 5 Kalidas Marg residence here on Wednesday. According to sources, both Akhilesh and Ramgopal were busy signing form A and form B related to party symbol and finalised candidates. “A quid-pro-quo approach would have to be adopted. For instance, SP has already announced the name Aparna Yadav, Mulayam’s second daughter in law from Lucknow Cantonment seat, which was won by Rita Bahuguna Joshi as Congress candidate. Bahuguna is now in BJP.
But SP would have to offer Congress another seat in lieu of Lucknow Cantt. Similarly, Congress does not want to give up Amethi seat, which is held by controversial minister Gayatri Prajapati, a close aide of Mulayam.
Mulayam has reportedly recommended Prajapati’s name from Amethi but the SP could vacate the seat for the Congress, according to sources.
Uttar Pradesh has 403 assembly constituencies. After several rounds of back channel talks, while the SP will contest on 290-300 seats, the Congress has reportedly sought 90-100 seats. The seat-distribution is being done on the basis of these parties performance in 2012 assembly elections in UP.
SP insiders said while the Congress was ahead of SP on 56 seats, the RLD got more votes than SP on 26 seats. “This is generally the broad seat-sharing formula that is being worked upon. We are willing to leave five seats for other smaller parties,” said a senior SP leader. Since Congress has made it clear that it will not settle for anything less than 90 seats, the RLD too is trying to drive a bargain and wants at least 30 seats.