UP elections: Samajwadi Party, Congress cement alliance after Gandhis intervene Samajwadi Party will contest 298 seats, the Congress on 105 of the 403 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh elections next month

Samajwadi Party will contest 298 seats, the Congress on 105 of the 403 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh elections next month

UP-kV5D--621x414@LiveMint (1)

 

 

New Delhi: After months of talks and bargaining, Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party and the Congress on Sunday announced an alliance for the upcoming assembly elections, showcasing an “agenda of development” and throwing a challenge to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While the SP will contest 298 seats, the Congress party will fight in 105 of the 403 assembly constituencies in the Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections next month.

“For the unity of the country and committed to the idea of secularism, SP and Congress will contest the 2017 polls together. We appeal to the supporters to vote for the candidates of the two parties to take forward the agenda of development started by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav,” said Samajwadi Party state president Naresh Uttam at a joint press conference with Raj Babbar, his counterpart in the Congress.

 

Hours later, the Congress released its first list of 41 candidates for constituencies going to polls in the first two phases—11 and 15 February. Candidates include former Union minister Jitin Prasada from Tilhar constituency, chief of the UP Congress legislative party Pradeep Mathur from Mathura and state vice-president Imraan Masood from Nakur. The SP also released its second list of 77 candidates on Sunday.

The breakthrough in protracted negotiations followed the intervention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi. Even though the SP leadership was adamant on contesting more than 300 seats, the party finally agreed to contest in 298.

“Congress has formed an alliance for the development of the state,” said Babbar at the joint press conference.

The SP leadership had initially offered just 80-85 seats to the Congress. It was only after the intervention of the Gandhi family members that the incumbent party on Sunday offered its alliance partner 105 seats.

“The Congress had demanded 120 seats but we have given a final figure of 105. When the talks had started, we were thinking of giving the Congress more seats considering it wanted to give some seats from its share to the RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal). Now that RLD is not part of the alliance, we have decided to give the Congress 105 of the 403 assembly seats,” said a person in chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s campaign team who did not wish to be named.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel reiterated his party’s commitment to the alliance. “It is wrong to suggest lightweights were dealing on behalf of Congress party. Discussion was at the highest level between UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi,” he said.

The road to consensus was not easy as the first signs of strain between the parties emerged on Friday, when a list of 191 candidates released by SP irked the Congress because it contained the names of candidates for nine seats from where the latter has members of legislative assembly (MLA).

Analysts said the alliance will help both parties consolidate the minority vote and throw a serious challenge to the BJP. “A final seal on the alliance between the parties means bad news for the BJP. The infighting in SP has weakened it and allying with the Congress will help it consolidate the minority vote against the BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party. Congress, which has lost its stronghold over the state in the recent years, has also found a strong ally in SP,” said S.K. Dwivedi, a Lucknow-based political analyst.

He added that an alliance with a national party like the Congress makes SP, a regional party, an even more serious contender for power.

 

 

 

Source