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UP election: Samajwadi Party- Congress alliance in trouble over seat sharing

The Samajwadi Party and Congress Party alliance has reportedly not materialised as Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday had offered 99 seats to the Congress party as against their demand of 110 seats for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.

assembly elections Updated: Jan 21, 2017 20:27 IST
Samajwadi Party,Congress,UP Elections
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav at a programme on completion of four years of his government in Lucknow.(PTI File Photo)

The Congress readied its plan B on Saturday for the Uttar Pradesh elections, as talks for an alliance with the Samajwadi Party remained stuck over the number of seats each side would contest.

The Congress’s central election committee met and finalised the names of candidates for the first two phases of the elections on February 11 and 15.

The move follows the party’s strategy to avoid any “last-minute hurry” in case the tie-up does not happen. Voting will be held in 140 seats in the two phases.

The Congress is miffed over the SP’s move on Friday to announce 208 candidates for the assembly elections, including for constituencies in which the national party was victorious in 2012.

The party rejected the SP’s initial offer of 80 seats, which was later topped up to at least 100. But the Congress remained stubborn on its demand for at least 120.

Differences over sharing of seats have almost derailed a proposed pre-poll alliance between the two and a smattering of smaller parties.

“The UP chief minister had offered 100 seats to the Congress, but they are not ready to accept anything less than 120. We told them we can’t contest in less than 300 seats. But the Congress is adamant as if they are a very influential party in UP,” SP leader Naresh Agarwal said.

Senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is in charge of the party’s UP affairs, kept the window open and indicated that back-channel talks would continue.

“You will get to know by tomorrow,” he shot back in response to a query if the alliance was over even before it took off.

The day began with hope that the two sides were inching towards an understanding, with SP sources indicating that the party was willing to concede 100 seats to the Congress, including three of the six it held in the state’s Nehru-Gandhi pocket-boroughs.

Of the 10 seats, the Congress managed to win just two in 2012. The SP bagged six.

The Congress refused to its scale down its demand for 120 seats.

“The Congress had only 28 MLAs in the outgoing assembly. How could they bargain for 100-plus seats now?” an SP leader said in Lucknow.

The other side is unhappy with the seats being offered.

“The SP is keeping the good seats for itself. The SP is giving way those where it has no base,” a Congress leader said.

Another niggling point is accommodating fringe players in the possible alliance. The SP is apparently not keen and wants the Congress to concede its own share of seats for the smaller parties.

“The Congress has been pushing for an alliance to give a united fight to communal forces. So the party will like to have more seats and accommodate possible allies,” a Congress leader said.

Amid the deadlock, Azad held a marathon meeting with senior leaders at the party’s poll “war room” in New Delhi. Possible scenarios arising from a failure to form an alliance were discussed.

Later, Azad met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Efforts for a headway continued through the day. Congress poll consultant Prashant Kishor is said to have had talks with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.

First Published: Jan 21, 2017 19:12 IST