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Kept waiting by Cong, Ajit Singh looks to SP

The possibility of the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal joining hands for the Uttar Pradesh polls has started thinning out.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2011 23:23 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times

The possibility of the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) joining hands for the Uttar Pradesh polls has started thinning out. Apparently, feeling slighted over the Congress keeping it on waitlist for too long, the RLD is once again looking towards the Samajwadi Party (SP) for an alliance. It feels that might be an easier task, especially when it comes to the issue of seat-sharing.

The off-and-on bonhomie between the Congress and the RLD received another setback after the recent cabinet expansion, reportedly disappointing RLD chief Ajit Singh who was expecting a berth or two for his party. And there are no hopes ahead.

The Prime Minister's announcement later that it was the final expansion before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in a way meant that vacancies for the RLD and similar other hopefuls have ceased to exist in the UPA government.

But the most important stumbling block to the possible alliance, according to RLD sources, was the Congress shying away from giving it an assurance over creation of Harit Pradesh and providing reservation to Jats.

"We told the Congress it should give a categorical assurance to us either for meeting our old demand for carving out Harit Pradesh or agree to provide reservation to Jats treating them as OBC so that we can explain to our voters as to why we had an alliance with the Congress despite all anti-farmer policies being pursued by the Congress-led government at the Centre," a senior RLD leader told Hindustan Times.

"But the Congress leaders insist that while they will decide on seat-sharing one by one, the RLD concern for Harit Pradesh and Jat reservation would be communicated to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi later," he added.

RLD leaders, in fact, feel that the Congress was unduly over-confident of its prospects in UP unmindful of the disastrous result of a similar attitude in Bihar.

"We fear the Congress' dream for 2014 may well be over in 2012 if they do not stop making castles in the air," said another leader.

When contacted, Ajit Singh, however, said talks were still on with the Congress but admitted "there has been no meaningful dialogue yet at the right place".

Asked if there was any possibility of the RLD-SP alliance, he said all options were open.

"But we feel a strong and viable alliance is the need of the hour to avoid a fractured mandate taking place to the benefit of the Bahujan Samaj Party in UP and we hope there will be a way out, shortly," Singh said.

First Published: Jul 18, 2011 18:33 IST