SP, Congress seat-sharing talks in U.P. make no headway

The grand old party insists on 20 seats and also demanding that it be given “winnable seats” instead of the ones offered at present

February 16, 2024 07:14 pm | Updated 07:49 pm IST - New Delhi 

Samajwadi party national president Akhilesh Yadav. File

Samajwadi party national president Akhilesh Yadav. File | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

The Congress-Samajwadi Party talks on seat sharing have hit an impasse, with the grand old party insisting on 20 seats and also demanding that it be given “winnable seats” instead of the ones offered at present. The Samajwadi Party, meanwhile, is questioning the Congress’s “seriousness”. A point of convergence remains elusive for the two

The last face-to-face conversation the two sides had was on January 19. Since then, the two sides have exchanged letters — one written by Mukul Wasnik, Rajya Sabha MP and convener of the party’s National Alliance Committee presenting the Congress’s wish list and Rajya Sabha MP and senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav responded expressing the SP’s reservations and objections on each of the seat mentioned by the Congress. 

RLD’s exit

Expressing hope that the two sides will be able to form a “winning equation” on January 29, SP national president Akhilesh Yadav in a post on X had announced, “Our cordial alliance with Congress is off to a good start with 11 strong seats.” The Congress responded ambiguously indicating that 11 is not the final number and that the talks are still on. Since, Jayant Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal for whom the SP had conceded seven seats, switched sides to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. With the RLD’s exit, the Congress was hoping to gain more seats. 

According to the informed sources, the SP is ready to concede 14 seats, though the Congress doesn’t agree with many of seats being offered, arguing about their low electoral potential. The SP, meanwhile, as per sources, also wants to vet the Congress list of possible candidates for each of the seats it gives them. “On what strength are they asking for seats, when they do not have the candidates,” a senior SP leader scoffed. The Congress is uneasy with this kind of control being exerted by the SP. 

The Congress instead contends that the SP’s insistence that the seat sharing has to be based on the electoral performance of the two in the last few elections (both Lok Sabha and Assembly) is a flawed approach. “They fought the 2019 polls in alliance with the BSP, while we fought alone. Our respective electoral performance was conditioned by what the people saw was our prospect and that changes. Politics is never only about arithmetic,” a senior Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh said. 

But both maintain that the relations remain cordial. Speaking to The Hindu, Salman Khurshid, who is part of the Congress’s five-member National Alliance committee, said both sides had factored the long duration for the negotiations. “We want to maximise and optimise the sum of the whole that we create together and it takes time,” he said. Senior SP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Javed Ali Khan, also speaking on similar lines, said, “Has the BJP even begun talking to their allies in State? Such negotiations take time and go on till the very end. There is nothing unusual about it,” he said.

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