- The alliance will have room for smaller parties, sources said
- The final decision on seat sharing will be taken after January 15
- Ajit Singh's RLD likely to get three seats in the grand alliance
Once bitter rivals and now allies in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party boss Mayawati met in Delhi on Friday to discuss a mahagathbandhan or grand alliance to take on the BJP in the heartland state. The two leaders, both upset with the Congress, do not want it as part of their alliance, sources said.
The alliance, say sources, will have room for smaller parties. The final decision on seat-sharing will be taken after January 15, sources said, adding Chaudhary Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal or RLD is likely to get three seats in the grand alliance.
Even though the Congress will be kept out of the coalition, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati do not intend to field any candidate in Amethi and Raebareli - the stronghold of the Gandhis, sources added.
Akhilesh Yadav had last week indicated at payback when his party's only lawmaker in Madhya Pradesh did not make it to new Chief Minister Kamal Nath's list of ministers. The Congress, he said, had gone back on its promise to do so, despite his party's role in helping the Congress reach the majority mark.
"Thanks to the Congress, they did not make our vidhayak (legislator) a minister," Akhilesh Yadav had told reporters last week. By doing so, the Congress had "cleared the path for Uttar Pradesh," he had said.
Mayawati, after ruling out a pre-poll alliance with the Congress, had reluctantly extended support to the party after the recent round of assembly elections to keep the BJP out of power in Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress fell a whisker short of majority.
Earlier this week, she said she would "reconsider" her support if the cases filed in the two states against the "innocent" during April's all-India strike by Scheduled Castes are not withdrawn. The Congress, she said, should not work like the BJP, which did not keep its promises.
Amid the hints dropped by the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, the Congress had last week said it was open to an alliance in UP with any party that wants to "free" the people from BJP rule.
The BJP and its allies had won 73 of the 80 seats in the last general elections in Uttar Pradesh, but lost Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls to Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav last year.
Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati are expected to meet again next week, sources said.