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SP, Cong overcome seat-sharing hiccups, seal UP alliance

Capping days of feverish parleys, Congress and Samajwadi Party on Sunday finally sealed an alliance to contest the UP Assembly polls together.

At a joint press conference on Sunday evening, leaders of the two parties said SP will contest 298 of the 403 seats and Congress the remaining 105.

"SP and Congress have forged an alliance and will contest UP assembly polls together," SP state president Naresh Uttam told a hurriedly convened media briefing on Sunday. UP PCC chief Raj Babbar hoped the SP-Congress alliance would reap a bumper electoral harvest in the state and fulfil aspirations of all sections of the society.

He said a Common Minimum Programme would be drafted within a week.

Talks between top Congress and SP leaders had been going on for the last several days for but an announcement got delayed as the two parties refused to scale down their demand for the number of seats each would contest.

Sources said the alliance materialised after the intervention of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

They said top leaders of both the parties finalised the seat sharing arrangement around wee hours on Sunday.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had earlier tweeted: "Discussion was at the highest level- CM (UP), GS I/C & Priyanka Gandhi."

Prospects of forming of an alliance between Samajwadi Party and Congress for the Uttar Pradesh polls had run into rough weather, with both parties hardening their stance over the number of seats.

At one stage senior SP leader Naresh Agarwal had said the possibility of an alliance was "almost over" and blamed the "stubborn" attitude of Congress for the deadlock.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had initially offered 100 seats to Congress but they demanded 120.

Samajwadi Party then reasoned that it had 234 sitting legislators and there were some others who would also contest. Thus, the ruling party needed at least 300 of the 403 seats. But, Congress leaders had informed the SP that in such a scenario, there could not be an alliance.

On the other hand, Congress' Central Election Committee met in Delhi and went ahead with finalising candidates for 140 seats which will go to polls in the first two phases. The party, however, did not declare its candidates for these seats, leaving a window for a possible alliance for which talks were held till wee hours on Sunday.

However, a confident UP Congress chief Raj Babbar had maintained, "There are no roadblocks in the talks."

Congress was also learnt to have been demanding that its candidates should be fielded in Amethi and Rae Bareli segments of the Lok Sabha constituencies represented by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

It was not immediately known to what extent the SP had accommodated the Congress' demand. Congress was also keen to include Ajit Singh-led RLD in the alliance, which the Samajwadi Party did not want.
M Post Bureau

M Post Bureau

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