The presence of party hoppers is inevitable during elections. But the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are said to be experimenting with a new, innovative formula to ensure victory in the UP assembly election that begins on February 11.
The concept is being billed as ‘Chehra tumhara, symbol hamara’ (your candidate, our party symbol). The idea gained currency after the Congress and the SP sealed a poll pact.
As the two alliance partners got down to rejigging their candidates’ list, sources said there were at least 10 SP and Congress nominees who, under a tacit understanding, may fight elections on the party symbol of their coalition partner.
A close scrutiny of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party’s list gives clear indications in this regard. Take the case of Agra (South) assembly seat. The SP list had Nazir as its candidate. The Congress list too had the same person with name of Nazir Ahmed. Nazir has now filed his nomination as a Congress candidate.
The SP list had the name of Congress MLA Mavia Ali from the Deoband seat of Saharanpur. Ali had won the by-poll from Deoband on a Congress ticket with strong support of senior Congress leader Imran Masood, who came into focus for his ‘hate speech’ against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Masood, now a Congress candidate from Nakur (Saharanpur), said Mavia Ali had joined the SP. So the Congress fielded Mukesh Chaudhary from Deoband, said Masood.
The SP and the Congress leaders, considered close to both parties, were given tickets for assembly seats in Rampur, Baghpat, Agra, Deoband, Badaun and Mathura.
“We understand there are about 10 names on the Congress list. This has been apparently done to consolidate position and avoid splitting of Muslim and Yadav votes,” said another Congress leader.
“A lot of aspirants switch sides when they are denied a party ticket. There is no dearth of such party hoppers. All I can say as of now is that we are still working on the seat-sharing arrangement and will declare a final list of our candidates soon,” said SP spokesperson Rajendra Chowdhary.
Despite the party’s official posturing, SP leaders, who refused to be named, admitted that several SP nominees now figure on the Congress list.
“I can count at least six on the finger tips but giving their names will defeat the very purpose behind the strategy,” said an SP office-bearer.
Under the seat sharing agreement, the SP will contest 288 and the Congress 105 seats. The SP has declared 324 nominees, 36 more than its alliance share. The Congress has released a list of only 43 contestants so far. The SP may have to revise its list soon to ensure smooth functioning of the alliance in Uttar Pradesh.