National

Congress gets 105 seats in deal with Akhilesh

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and newly appointed party president Akhilesh Yadav at a function to release the Samajwadi Party manifesto at the party headquarters, in Lucknow on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

The Samajwadi Party and the Congress will fight the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections together, in a move that both parties hope will help them consolidate the Muslim vote, a significant 19 per cent of the electorate.

After days of wrangling over the distribution of seats, the two parties agreed on a seat sharing formula under which the Congress will contest 105 seats while the SP will battle it out in 298 seats under Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

The Congress emerged a winner from the deal as it got thrice the number of seats than its 2012 tally of just 28. The SP had won 224 seats.

The formal announcement of the tie-up was made here at a hurriedly convened joint press conference by SP State president Naresh Uttam Patel, SP vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda and Congress State president Raj Babbar. The parties cited the need to preserve secularism and unity of the country as reasons for coming together.

Mr. Babbar said the tie-up would usher in a “new beginning” in State and national politics and vowed to “throw out communal forces and BJP.”

He said the two parties would form a “political and ideological force and challenge divisive politics” with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s ideology of empowerment of youth and Akhilesh Yadav’s leadership.

Asserting that the alliance would “set an example” in development, Mr. Babbar said the two parties would issue a common minimum programme in one week, a “new agenda that is accountable and far-sighted.” Mr. Uttam, who announced the alliance, said the two parties were uniting for the sake of the “unity and integrity” of the country and its development.

The leaders, however, did not take questions on the talks over seat arrangement.

Soon after the press conference, the SP released another list of 77 candidates, including three from Rae Bareli — Salon, Unchahar and Sareni.

It was soon followed up by the party announcing in a separate note that it would also contest on two seats in neighbouring Amethi —Amethi and Gauriganj. While sitting MLA Rakesh Pratap Singh is fielded in Gauriganj, the SP has fielded corruption tainted controversial minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati from Amethi.

Mr. Babbar said the two parties would issue a common minimum programme in one week, a “new agenda that is accountable and far-sighted.” Mr. Uttam, who announced the alliance, said the two parties were uniting for the sake of the “unity and integrity” of the country and its development. The leaders, however, did not take questions on the talks over seat arrangement.

Soon after the press conference, the SP released another list of 77 candidates, including three from Rae Bareli — Salon, Unchahar and Sareni. It was soon followed by the party announcing that it would also contest on two seats in Amethi —Amethi and Gauriganj.

While the Congress is yet to declare its candidates, the SP has declared candidates on five out of the 10 seats in the Nehru-Gandhi pocket boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli.

No candidates have been yet declared from either side on Tiloi, Jagdishpur, Rae Bareli Sadar, Harchandpur and Bachhrawa seats.

The Congress was adamant that the SP concede the seats it won in the two districts. In 2012, the Congress had fared badly in Amethi and Congress, winning only one, while the SP had secured eight.

There was also no clarity on whether the SP was willing to cancel its tickets for the 10 seats where it had fielded candidates despite sitting Congress MLAs.

Mamata, Lalu welcome

The news of the SP-Congress alliance was welcomed by top non-BJP leaders. While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee extended “full support” to the “good alliance,” RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav highlighted his efforts in “stitching a Bihar-like alliance” in U.P. through his “talks” with the top leadership of SP and Congress. In fact, after the announcement his son Tejaswi Yadav tweeted: “Lalooji’s efforts paid off in stitching SP/INC in UP for social equality, brotherhood and Akhilesh Yadav’s development.”


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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 2:34:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Congress-gets-105-seats-in-deal-with-Akhilesh/article17078027.ece

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