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SP and Cong set to reach deal on fighting UP elections together

Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav haven’t formally met but sources say a broad understanding through ‘intermediaries’ and ‘telephonic discussions’ has been achieved.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2017 00:35 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times
Assembly elections 2017,Uttar Pradesh elections 2017,Samajwadi Party
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses party workers in New Delhi. The party vice president is looking to revive the party in Uttar Pradesh.(PTI)

The Congress and the Samajwadi Party are inching closer to an alliance for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections as both sides work on a common minimum programme and bridge the gap on the contentious seat-sharing dispute.

The top leaders of the two likely alliance partners -- Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav – haven’t formally met but sources said a broad understanding through ‘intermediaries’ and ‘telephonic discussions’ has been achieved for a CMP and seat sharing.

“The alliance is likely to be announced any time after the election commission passes an order on the Samajwadi Party’s election symbol. We understand a 10 to 12 point CMP is being worked out and the Congress may get a share of 90 to 100 seats. As of now, the Rashtriya Lok Dal is not being considered, though other smaller parties may be roped in,” said sources.

Assembly elections 2017: It will be a fight for every vote in battlefield UP

According to sources, work on CMP has started as there are no indications of an amicable solution between the two warring SP factions, one led by Akhilesh and the other by his uncle Shivpal. Both sides are fighting over the party’s name and symbol, the bicycle.

“The Congress has been in a dilemma over an alliance with a faction of the Samajwadi Party, despite being in touch with the Akhilesh group. The EC’s order on symbol would make the situation clear. If the CM faction fails to get the ‘cycle’ symbol, it may decide to contest as a group named after Akhilesh Yadav. Hence the CMP is being worked out,” said sources.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have conducted study possible candidates, past performance and the prevailing situation. “Rahul and Priyanka have taken necessary feedback and held preliminary discussions with the party men at various levels. They will be in a position to take a quick decision when seat sharing for an alliance is worked out,” said a senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity.

Other senior leaders also refused to go on record on the issue of alliance but exuded confidence that the seat sharing would be respectable if an alliance was worked out. “It may be 90 to 100 seats,” they said. The party leaders’ confidence is based on an internal report on the prospects of contesting an election with or without an alliance with the Samajwadi Party.

According to sources, the report suggests that though a likely alliance would make a considerable improvement in the Congress’ performance, the situation would not be as bad as being projected without an alliance. “At best, the party will be able to win 50 to 60 seats if the alliance gets acceptance among the people. However, the party would be able to perform equally well even without an alliance. So the increase in seat share in the likely alliance will mean more seats for the Congress. That is why the party has been pushing for more seats,” said another senior leader.

First Published: Jan 12, 2017 11:13 IST