SP-Cong-RLD ‘Grand Alliance’ in UP… A non-starter still

RSTV Bureau

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Even before the much-awaited announcement of prospective SP-Congress-RLD Mahagathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh, there are reports of cracks within. Samajwadi Party and Congress are in the midst of divergent views over the inclusion of junior-most probable, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

While the Samajwadi Party has ruled out any alliance with RLD, the Congress party, which is in “direct talks” with it, has not ruled out the possibility.

“We will forge an alliance only with the Congress. We will not ally with the RLD. No talks are going on with them (RLD). We will contest from over 300 seats (out of 403) and the Congress will be there for the rest of them,” SP national vice president Kironmoy Nanda has told the press.

The formal announcement of the alliance and with it the number of seats to be contested by the parties is still eagerly awaited, even after the Congress party went on record earlier this week “confirming” the alliance with SP.

According to reports, a marathon six-hour meeting was presided by UP Chief Minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav with senior party leaders over the seat-sharing ratio with Congress. Sources said the RLD wanted more seats than what the SP was ready to part with.

“We wanted the seats of our choice but there was no agreement on it,” RLD spokesman Anil Dubey said, declining to elaborate.

Even the reported direct talks between RLD chief Ajit Singh’s son Jayant Choudhary and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has not been able to work out the maths. The Congress party has offered some 20 seats to the RLD, but the latter is firm on not accepting a seat less than 30, claimed the ‘insiders’.

“If the Congress wants to work out a deal with the RLD from its share (of seats), that is up to them,” SP vice president Nanda said.

However, on its part, the Congress has not given up on the possibility of a grand three-party alliance which will take on the challengers BJP and Mayawati’s BSP.

Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala told reporters in Delhi that, “contours of the alliance are being worked out. So…it is premature for me to say something on the issue till things are finalised.”

In the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, the RLD had won only nine seats. Two years later, in the Lok Sabha election, large swaths of Jats, who account for 17 per cent of western UP’s voters, spurned the party for the BJP, helping the latter to win 73 seats out of 80.

The performance that immensely helped the BJP secure a comfortable majority on its own.

(With inputs from the PTI)