SP-Cong relation turns sour, future tense

Updated on Sep 17, 2008 12:27 AM IST

The Congress-Samajwadi Party (SP) seat-sharing talks have virtually hit a wall in Madhya Pradesh and struck a low in Uttar Pradesh. A report by Saroj Nagi.

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HT Image
Hindustan Times | BySaroj Nagi, New Delhi

The Congress-Samajwadi Party (SP) seat-sharing talks have virtually hit a wall in Madhya Pradesh and struck a low in Uttar Pradesh.

Accusing the Congress of betrayal and nudging “defection” in the state unit of the SP in Madhya Pradesh, the party general secretary Amar Singh on Tuesday ruled out any truck with the Congress in MP.

He warned that the move could affect the seat-negotiation talks in UP and the party could pay back its ally in the same coin by opening its doors to any Congress rebel in the state.

Amar Singh’s outburst came in the wake of recent resignations of four SP MLAs. Indications are that these legislators would join the Congress and might get party tickets.

Congress general secretary and former chief minister of MP Digvijay Singh, however, said that these MLAs had independently decided to quit the SP and had not joined the Congress so far. “Where is the question of betrayal?’’ he asked.

As for the ongoing talks on UP, the Congress leader said the party would shortly write a letter to SP chief Mulayam Singh listing the parliamentary seats it wants to contest from in the state. He also plans to talk to Amar Singh after that.

According to Digvijay Singh, an agreement on half the total number of the state’s 80 parliamentary seats has already been taken. “We need to arrive at a settlement on the remaining 40 seats,’’ he said.

If there is no resolution, the top leaders of the two parties would hammer out a solution of the issue, Singh added. But he refused to give a break up of seats on which an understanding has been reached.

Contrary to what Singh said, there were reports that the talks have hit a roadblock over the SP’s claim on some of the Congress’s sitting Lok Sabha seats. The party, which has nine MPs in the lower House, reacted by saying that it would go for friendly contests in some seats. This prompted the SP to comment that “political alliances do not work like this”.

The SP, which has assured 12 seats to its ally in UP, also threatened that if the Congress poaches on its MLAs in MP, it could do a “rethink’’ in UP. To mount pressure, it also said that it would talk to Uma Bharati in MP and Ajit Singh’s RLD in UP.

One of the four SP legislators, who have resigned in MP, KK Singh is the nephew of senior Congress leader Arjun Singh. The remaining three, Vikram Singh, Vanshmani Verma and Arjun Palia, are also considered Congress supporters. In all, the SP had 8 MLAs in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh assembly.

Is the SP’s offer of 12 Lok Sabha seats an honourable number? “There is no such thing as an honourable number…Each party has to take a pragmatic view looking at the situation in the state and the country,’’ said Digvijay Singh. But he maintained that seat sharing talks cannot be based on earlier parliamentary results because delimitation has altered the complexion of constituencies.

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