SP-Cong tie-up talks gain currency
Prospects of a poll alliance between the ruling Samajwadi Party and Congress appeared to be brightening on Tuesday with both showing inclination towards a tie-up, feeling that it will be beneficial for the two parties and would halt BJP’s march.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said a tie-up between SP and Congress would fetch over 300 of the 403 Assembly seats in the upcoming elections while Congress said it is not averse to a “respectable” seat-sharing formula.
“Though samajwadis are going to form majority government in the state, if an alliance takes place, it will win over 300 seats. The final decision in this regard will be taken by SP National president (Mulayam Singh Yadav),” Akhilesh told reporters here.
Congress leaders of Uttar Pradesh, while sniffing a chance because of demonetisation, are showed inclination towards an alliance, saying the party is open to a “respectable” seat-sharing formula with SP.
Accepting that there are some back channel efforts to firm up an alliance, a Congress leader said his party will not agree to less than 100 seats which it has already identified.
“Besides the 29 seats it won in the last Assembly polls and 31 others on which it had finished second, there are some 50 other constituencies where the party has good chance,” he said.
The party, which has been out of power in the politically important state for 27 years, is trying its best to revive its electoral fortunes by pushing its vice president Rahul Gandhi to hold a ‘kisan yatra’ across the state.
“The aim and target of Congress is not just to halt BJP in Uttar Pradesh but also in the country for which it believes that all parties having similar ideology need to come together,” said the leader who refused to be identified.
“Such an alliance is also in the interest of Samajwadi Party which desperately needs to secure a strong platform to ward off division of Muslim votes in order to consolidate its position,” he said.
BSP is posing a stiff challenge to Samajwadi Party and is going all out to woo Muslim voters and this is a concern for SP, he noted.
Congress had launched its poll preparations much in advance, roping in election strategist Prashant Kishor and announced the name of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate with an eye on Brahmin votes.
Meanwhile, The Samajwadi Party has started preparatory work for the forthcoming Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) polls by conducting interviews of probables and is planning to release the list of its candidates soon after the code of conduct comes into force.
Samajwadi Party Maharashtra unit chief Abu Asim Azmi interviewed over 100 candidates so far for 35 seats. The party has already announced that it will not forge an alliance with any party to fight the civic body polls due early next year.
“The party has planned to contest 125 seats of the total 227 seats but this would further depend on availability of qualified candidates,” Azmi told a news agency.
‘BSP transfered votes to BJP, I can prove it’
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday claimed that BSP “transfered” votes to BJP which is why the latter won the majority of seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and he could prove it.
“BSP used to transfer its votes to BJP. This is why it got zero seats, while BJP won the majority of seats in the 2014 parliamentary polls. I have data of booths that show votes (of BSP) were transferred to BJP. I can prove it,” he claimed. Yadav was asked why BJP won elections held during the tenures of Samajwadi Party-led governments in the state.
On another query related to BSP, he said, “Do not ask me anything about this party. They should give some thought to what they have done for the development of the state.” Asked about Mayawati’s claim that the Lucknow Metro and the Agra Expressway were initiatives of her government, Yadav said, “Nobody stopped her from rolling out these schemes...
She may claim that she had plans to launch the smart phone scheme. She should tell us if she can press a single button or has knowledge of smart phones.”
Amid reports of Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday said if such a tie-up takes place in the upcoming state assembly polls it would win over 300 seats.
“Though samajwadis are going to form majority government in the state, but if alliance takes place, it will win over 300 (of the 403) seats. The final decision in this regard will be taken by party National president (Mulayam Singh Yadav),” he said when asked about possibility of his party’s alliance with Congress.
Expecting a note-ban backlash against BJP, Congress has kept a back channel open for striking a pre-poll alliance or an understanding with Samajwadi Party for next year’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, sources in the party said.
Desperate to be counted in the power stakes in Uttar Pradesh where it ruled 27 years back, Congress leaders might settle for anything between 60-70 seats, including the 20 sitting MLAs it has in the state Assembly, the sources said.