Special Correspondent

After Congress announcement that it cannot part with the Mumbai North-West seat

SP may field 10 candidates in West Bengal

‘Excellent relations’ with Sharad Pawar

NEW DELHI: Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh announced here on Sunday that his party would field candidates in the maximum possible number of seats in Maharashtra, as the seat-sharing talks with the Congress had failed.

Earlier, both the parties had failed to arrive at a seat sharing agreement in Uttar Pradesh.

“The Congress formally informed us this [Sunday] morning that it would not be able to part with the Mumbai North-West seat,” Mr. Singh said at a press conference here. “Therefore, I have to announce with a heavy heart that the SP will contest the maximum number of seats in Maharashtra.” The Samajwadi Party had sought the seat for its Maharashtra unit president Abu Asim.

Mr. Singh threatened to field 10 candidates in West Bengal if the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress did not leave one seat to his party. At the same time, his party would not field candidates against Ms. Banerjee and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

“We had asked Congress for just one seat to field our Maharashtra unit president Abu Asim. Had they given us that one seat we would not have contested in other seats as it would only result in division of votes. The Mumbai North-West seat is new and there was no sitting Congress candidate,” he said.

The Congress would be responsible for the division of votes in Maharashtra, Mr. Singh said. However, the SP would not field a candidate against Sunil Dutt’s daughter Priya Dutt “as long as Congress fields no candidate against film star-turned-politician Sanjay Dutt in Lucknow.”

Mr. Singh refused to blame Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar for the present situation. “We have excellent personal and political relations with him,” he said.

He regretted that the Trinamool Congress did not ask the SP before going in for alliances. “When Mamata was taking on the Left in Singur and Nandigram, nobody supported her except the Samajwadi Party. Today they have a unilateral alliance without even asking us,” he said.

Mr. Singh said the SP “antagonised” the Left Front by supporting Ms. Banerjee and holding a joint press conference with her. If the SP fielded candidates in the Left bastion, leaders like Jaya Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari would campaign for them. “Jayaji is a Bengali, I am half Bengali and Mr. Tiwari is popular among North Indians living in Howrah and Asansol,” he said.