To be or not to be? Congress weighs options on SP alliance

Following the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) unilateral decision to release its list of candidates for the 52 Lok Sabha seats,the Congress has started looking for options.

Written by Sanjay Singh | Lucknow | Published:January 19, 2009 1:35 am

Following the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) unilateral decision to release its list of candidates for the 52 Lok Sabha seats,the Congress has started looking for options. The idea is to get at least 25 seats as its share in the proposed alliance with the SP. Also,the party is in no mood to compromise with its other demand — friendly contest in at least six constituencies.

Sources in the state Congress committee said the state party chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi will meet AICC president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Monday.

“This is an internal meeting of the party. Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh may participate in the discussion,” said a source in the UPCC. Later Joshi,who is in Delhi,confirmed her plan to meet Sonia.

Party insiders said the high command now has three possible options.

“Soniaji will allow us to release the list of candidates for at least 35 seats. The second is that the party might prefer a direct talk between the Sonia Gandhi and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. The third option — a remote possibility — is that the Congress goes it alone in the elections,” said a senior functionary of the UPCC. Party insiders say the best way to create pressure on the SP is to release the first list containing the names of candidates for about 35 seats.

“If the alliance is given a final shape,both parties will withdraw their candidates as per the agreement. Otherwise,the Congress will have its option to field its candidates on 55 seats,” a leader said.

As for the second option,going by Gandhi’s stature,“she is always in a position to invite Mulayam Singh for direct talks.” The third option is applicable only if he refuses the Congress demands.

Although both parties consider the alliance an unavoidable step,they have their problems.

Yadav would always prefer to stay a dominant force in UP. Unlike Congress,his party has no base in other states. “So he won’t prefer to give the Congress any scope to regain its lost base in UP,” a Congress leader said.

Plus,the lack of issues for the SP makes an alliance with the Congress logical,the leaders feel. “Election is always fought on agendas,” he said. “Minus the UPA,the SP has no issues. Its decision to support the UPA has enabled it to join the mainstream of national politics,” he added.

As for Congress,it does not want to compromise with about 15 seats the SP reportedly offers.

“We don’t want a repeat of 1996,when the BSP contested 300 seats in the UP during its alliance with the Congress,” said a party insider.

For all the latest Lucknow News, download Indian Express App

    Live Cricket Scores & Results