The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh appeared to be on the verge of collapse on Sunday with Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party announcing that it would leave only six seats out of the total of 80 for Congress in the politically crucial state.
The announcement by Yadav came close on the heels of his meeting with former BJP leader Kalyan Singh,whose bonhomie with SP has been a bone of contention between Congress and SP.
The two sides continued to play hardball game,with the SP declaring that it is ready to reconsider its list of already declared candidates for 65 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh if Congress climbs down from its demand,only to announce a few hours later that it will leave only six seats for Congress.
A belligerent Congress said there was no question of going back on its demand for 24 seats and warned SP that it will be compellled to go it alone in all constituencies in the state if the SP does not relent.
“A final decision on seat-sharing will be arrived at our party’s Central Election Committee meeting which is likely to be held in Delhi on March 10. But there is no question of our going back on the 24 Lok Sabha seats for which we have declared our candidates,” Uttar Pradesh Congress President Rita Bahuguna Joshi said in Allahabad.
The two parties,however,insisted that they were still in favour of stitching an alliance.
The Congress had been maintaining till Saturday that the alliance was not over while SP had accused it of breaking it by unilaterally announcing the list of 24 candidates.
The only matter of consolation for the Congress so far is that the six seats where the SP won’t be fielding candidates include Rae Bareli and Amethi from where Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul will be contesting.
Also left for Congress are the constituencies from where Union ministers Jitin Prasad (Dhaurahra) and Sriprakash Jaiswal (Kanpur) are contesting. Ghaziabad is another seat which the SP has left for Congress. Incidentally BJP chief Rajnath Singh is contesting from there. Mathura is the sixth seat left for Congress by SP.
While SP decided to leave six seats for Congress,it also announced candidates for seven more LS seats in Uttar Pradesh. With this,it has announced candidates for 71 seats out of total 80 in the state.
Congress had won nine seats in the outgoing Parliament in UP and SP’s announcement shows that it would now resort to friendly fights with Congress in three constituencies there.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh,however,told reporters after meeting Kalyan Singh,that they still expect to hammer out an alliance with Congress,suggesting thereby that SP’s Sunday’s announcement was an effort to build more pressure on the Congress.
“We have not lost hope from Congress,” Yadav said,while Singh said that “there are no hostilities with Congress,as we had promised them that SP will not put up any candidates in Rae Bareli and Amethi. Apart from these two,we have given them four more seats”.
Yadav’s aggressive stand was in stark contrast to his mellowed approach earlier in the day,when he had told mediapersons that he was even ready to “make some changes in our list of seats on which we have already declared candidates,provided Congress is ready to soften its demand of seeking 25 seats in UP”.
He had also said that “though till now there have been problems in finalising the alliance with Congress,we have no dispute with them”.
SP also announced candidates for five Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh,three LS seats in Haryana and one in Uttarakhand.