Congress president Sonia Gandhi has reportedly stepped in after the alliance talks with Samajwadi Party hit the dead end on Saturday with both Congress and SP hardening their stance over sharing of seats.
Despite Congress president’s last-minute intervention, sources close to both parties said that an alliance was highly unlikely just couple of days before the deadline for filing the nominations for the first phase of UP elections.
Senior SP leader Naresh Agarwal said the possibility of an alliance was “almost over” and blamed the “stubborn” attitude of Congress for the deadlock.
“The Chief Minister (Akhilesh Yadav) had made an offer of 100 seats to the Congress but they are asking for 120 seats. We told them that we have 234 sitting legislators and there are some others who will also contest. So we need at least 300 seats for ourselves.
“But they became very stubborn as if they command a huge influence in UP and that without them UP will not be able to survive,” said Agarwal, Rajya Sabha member considered close to Akhilesh, who is also the SP president.
Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats.
According to Agarwal, Akhilesh had made it clear that SP cannot give more than 100 seats and “the Congress leaders then informed us that in such a case, there cannot be an alliance.”
Asked whether scope of further talks still exists, he said the “possibility has virtually dwindled.”
“I will blame Congress for this…they have helped the BJP. However, we made every effort to forge an alliance but they have been very stubborn…” he said.
On the other hand, Congress’ Central Election Committee met in Delhi and finalised candidates for 140 seats which will go to polls in the first two phases.
However, the party did not declare these candidates, leaving scope for possible alliance for which talks were still underway.
“We had a meeting of CEC for first and second phase,” Congress general secretary and incharge of Uttar Pradesh Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters, adding party’s candidates for 140 seats were finalised in this meeting.
Asked if the allinace with SP was on or over, he said, “Let us see, You will know by tomorrow (Sunday) morning when the announcement is made.”
UP Congress chief Raj Babbar claimed that the party will fight the first two phases of elections in Uttar Pradesh with full strength.
Keeping the suspense over the proposed alliance with the SP, Babbar said, “There are no roadblocks in the talks.”
Sources add that while SP does not want to give more than 100 seats, the Congress which initially put forth the demand of 150 seats under the alliance, has scaled down considerably but is not ready to accept the figure SP is adamant on.
Congress is also learnt to be demanding that its candidates should be fielded in Amethi and Rae Bareli segments of the Lok Sabha constituencies represented by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Congress is also keen to include Ajit Singh-led RLD in the alliance, which the Samajwadi Party is not keen on.
SP has maintained that it will have no truck with RLD and if Congress wanted, it could give its share of seats to Ajit Singh’s party.
(With PTI inputs)