Seeking non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav Dalit votes, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) have decided to keep space open for non-dominant caste parties in their upcoming alliance for the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Towards that end, the BSP and SP leaderships have agreed to keep aside two seats for such smaller parties, sources said. There was broad agreement that the BSP and SP would contest 37 seats each, leaving the remaining six for allies, including two each for the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and the Congress, the sources said.
The seat sharing arrangement was discussed in a meeting of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP president Mayawati in Delhi Friday evening. A formal announcement on seat sharing could be made after January 15.
Sources in the SP said that the NDA’s ally in UP, Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), could get one seat in the alliance while the other seat could be given to one more smaller party — or maybe the RLD if no suitable candidate is found.
The SBSP has openly complained about the BJP in recent days. When asked about the development, SBSP principal general secretary Arvind Rajbhar said, “All options are open for us.”
Confirming the Friday meeting, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhry said, “It has been decided in principle that both (SP and BSP) will contest together. But seat sharing will be decided in upcoming meetings.”
The sources said while no final decision has been taken on including Congress in the alliance, the party would be given Amethi and Rae Bareli. In 2014, Sonia Gandhi had won the Rae Bareli seat while Rahul Gandhi, who is now Congress president, was elected to Lok Sabha from Amethi.
“Till the final announcement, there remains hope for Congress to be a part of the gathbandhan,” said a source in the SP, suggesting that a powerful sections in both parties were keen to bring Congress within the alliance, based on actual electoral strength.
The RLD, which has the support of Jat voters in western UP, may get Baghpat and Mathura, which have been the traditional constituencies of the party’s president Ajit Singh and vice president Jayant Chaudhary, the sources said.
Of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in UP, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal won 73 in 2014. The SP won five, and the Congress two.
Sources said the SP and BSP also had preliminary discussions on the seats to be contested by the two parties. They looked at who had come second on each seat in 2014. The BSP was second at 34 seats, and the SP at 31. Sources said that Gautam Buddha Nagar may go to the BSP.
“Also, it will be ensured that all seats in one divisional headquarters do not go to any one party,” said an SP leader.
The sources also said that while the top leaders of both the BSP and SP are upset with the Congress for not inducting their MLAs in its governments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the SP advocated leaving two seats for the Congress. The SP and BSP are supporting the Congress governments in MP and Rajasthan. A senior Congress leader has reportedly approached the SP top leadership asking that the Congress be accommodated in the alliance.