Obstructed,SP now targets Congress

Frustrated with its “no-gain” support to the UPA government,the Samajwadi Party is now treading on the toes of Congress,the state alliance partner it is contemplating for the Lok Sabha polls.

Written by Alka Pande | Lucknow | Published:January 10, 2009 1:53 am

Frustrated with its “no-gain” support to the UPA government,the Samajwadi Party is now treading on the toes of Congress,the state alliance partner it is contemplating for the Lok Sabha polls.

Starting with a demand for about 40 seats,the Congress had already scaled down to a minimum of 25 seats on which it was seeking an understanding with the SP.

But the SP leaders have not only threatened to withdraw support from Congress,in their list of candidates for 29 parliament constituencies released on Thursday,they included five seats on which the Congress had been seeking a “friendly fight”. It was the names the SP announced for the five,which came as an eye opener.

The tacit understanding was that the party would field a comparatively weaker candidate. But the ones they ended up announcing were as strong as the Congress candidates ¿ which would not only raise the hackles of the Congress but play into the hands of the BSP during elections.

The most controversial one was Rampur,where the Congress wanted to field Noor Bano. The SP ended up with Jaya Prada’s name.

Similarly,though the Congress had asked for Barabanki and Unnao constituencies for two of its prominent candidates — former bureaucrat PL Punia and Anu Tandon,the SP announced the names of Ram Sagar Rawat for Barabanki and Deepak Kumar for Unnao.

For the Shahjahanpur constituency — a reserved seat from where the Congress wanted to field former legislator Chet Ram — the SP has announced the name of Mithlesh Kumar.

The party even declared its candidate for Phoolpur (Allahabad),from where the Congress had plans to field the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

Sources in the SP told The Indian Express that the motive behind the alliance was to get a particular ministry for party general secretary Amar Singh and a reprieve for Mulayam Singh Yadav in his disproportionate assets case in the Supreme Court. “Both issues fell flat,leading the party leaders to resort to pressure politics,” said a senior SP leader.

One of the Congress leaders also commented on the SP declaration of actor Sanjay Dutt’s name for the Lucknow Lok Sabha.

“The Congress wanted to field some big names to give a tough fight to the BJP,but the SP announced its candidate who has controversies attached to him and that too without even consulting the alliance partner,” said a senior leader.

“If there is a fight between the SP and the BJP,the Hindu Muslim vote will be split,” he added.

Some of the state Congress leaders who had been against the alliance from the beginning,said the party will gain over 10 seats in UP and increase its vote percentage if it goes to polls alone.

“The alliance may hike the number of seats to 15 but the party will lose face in over 70 per cent of places,” said a senior Congress leader.

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