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SP not keen on Cong as ally in UP?

The Samajwadi Party (SP) appears averse to taking Congress on board as a prime alliance partner in UP for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

lucknow Updated: Jun 12, 2018 15:10 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal
Pankaj Jaiswal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
SP,Congress,Aliiance
At press conferences, to any question about the Congress, Akhilesh just repeats “We are lifelong friends”.(HT)

The Samajwadi Party (SP) appears averse to taking Congress on board as a prime alliance partner in UP for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The party’s reluctance stems from the failure of the SP-Congress alliance to make an impact in the 2017 UP assembly polls and the success of the SP-BSP understanding in Gorakhpur, Phulpur, Kairana and Noorpur by-elections.

Although SP chief Akhilesh Yadav continues to call Congress national president Rahul Gandhi a ‘lifelong friend’, he has not negotiated with the Congress since the 2017 debacle. He also did not hold talks with the Congress ahead of the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha by-polls though he struck an alliance with the BSP, Peace Party, NISHAD Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

Unaware of secret negotiations between the SP and BSP, the Congress had fielded candidates for the both Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats. While the BSP-backed SP wrested both seats from the BJP, Congress candidates lost their deposits in both places.

Akhilesh also took Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Mahan Dal on board for the Kairana LS and Noorpur assembly by-polls. The Congress decided not to field any candidates there. The results again went against the BJP.

“Congress or no Congress, if the SP and the BSP stay together, they don’t need any other across- the-state ally. We can have different sub-partners in different regions, like Peace Party and NISHAD in Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-polls in eastern UP or RLD in Kairana and Noorpur by-polls in western UP,” said a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav.

Since the by-election results, Akhilesh Yadav has often emphasised he is “prepared to make sacrifices to make the alliance with the BSP work”.

He has also said, “no one respects her (Mayawati) more than he does”. But not even once has he said anything about the Congress.

At press conferences, to any question about the Congress, Akhilesh just repeats “We are lifelong friends”.

After the by-poll victories, SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav appreciated his son Akhilesh for striking the alliance with arch-rival Mayawati.

But he maintained his old stance on the Congress by saying: “The Congress doesn’t exist in UP beyond two seats (Rae Bareli and Amethi).” Mulayam had criticised Akhilesh for joining hands with the Congress in 2017, both before the polls and after the results.

“The SP-BSP arithmetic of Muslims plus Dalits plus backwards is formidable. If they stay together, then they really won’t need any other big partner,” said Prof SK Dwivedi, former head of Lucknow University’s political science department.

While Akhilesh has kept the Congress guessing about about its role in any partnership in UP, Samajwadi Party has declared that it will contest all the 230 seats in Madhya Pradesh. The SP is also likely to contest all the 90 seats in Chattisgarh. Both these states, along with Rajasthan, are due to go to polls in November.

“Akhileshji is due to tour Madhya Pradesh on July 19 and 20,” said Rajendra Chaudhary, the SP state spokesperson.

Chaudhary also said: “Now, people are looking at the Samajwadi Party as an alternative to the BJP and want the SP to turn into a national party”.

In MP, the Congress has allied with the BSP. But the SP is gong it alone there on finding alliance terms unsuitable.

A senior SP leader said: “Nothing can be foretold in politics. We thought Congress will be the obvious alliance choice for SP for the 2019 polls but what wasn’t obvious has happened. The SP and the BSP have allied. You never know what might happen till the Lok Sabha polls. But one thing is certain, Akhilesh will not field any candidates in Rae Bareli and Amethi as a traditional gesture to Congress MPs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi there.”

First Published: Jun 12, 2018 15:10 IST