Akhilesh Yadav's Final Offer, INDIA Unity In UP Hinges On Congress Reply

Samajwadi Party has made a final 17-seats offer, but the Congress wants one more

Akhilesh Yadav has said SP will join Rahul Gandhi's yatra after seat-sharing is final

New Delhi:

In signs of fresh trouble for the INDIA Opposition bloc in Uttar Pradesh, seat-sharing talks between the Samajwadi Party and Congress have hit a roadblock. The Akhilesh Yadav-led party, sources said, has made a final offer of 17 seats, but the Congress is yet to accept it. Mr Yadav has so far stayed away from the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which is moving through Uttar Pradesh, and said his party will join the yatra once the seat-sharing arrangement for Lok Sabha polls is finalised.

The Congress has been trying to drive a hard bargain in the politically significant state. The Samajwadi Party had first offered 11 seats to the Grand Old Party. But with the Jayant Chaudhary-led Rastriya Lok Dal switching to the NDA camp, the Samajwadi Party agreed to give 15 seats to the Congress. The latter bargained for more and Samajwadi Party offered Saharanpur and Amroha seats too, reportedly on the request of Congress's Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Then, sources said, Congress asked for Moradabad or Bijnor seat. The Samajwadi Party put its foot down on a final 17-seats offer, and the talks stalled.

"We have had several rounds of discussions, exchanged many lists. When the seat-sharing is done, Samajwadi Party will participate in their Nyay yatra," Mr Yadav said yesterday. The Samajwadi Party leader, sources said, is waiting for a reply from the Congress leadership. Mr Yadav wants the Congress to reply before the first leg of Rahul Gandhi's Yatra ends. If Congress does not seal the deal in the next three days, the alliance is likely to fall apart, the sources said.

Amid the tussle between the allies, Samajwadi Party spokesperson Fakhrul Hassan Chand posted on X that the Congress will be responsible if the alliance gets derailed.

In the post addressed to Mr Gandhi, he wrote, "Rahul Gandhi ji, our leader Akhilesh Yadav is large-hearted, but your petty and vain functionaries do not want an alliance between Samajwadi Party and Congress in Uttar Pradesh. If the alliance falls apart, the Congress will be responsible."

"The Congress should remember that its vote-share is lower than that of many small parties. Samajwadi Party is strong enough to remove the anti-people government on its own," he added.

Earlier, Mr Yadav had announced candidates for 16 out of 80 parliamentary seats in Uttar Pradesh, underlining that it does not need Congress's clearance to name its candidates.

The Samajwadi Party won five seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 polls. The Congress won one. 

Many INDIA Setbacks 

The impasse in Uttar Pradesh comes after the Congress's push for more seats derailed alliance talks in West Bengal. In Bengal, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has said that her party will go solo in the Lok Sabha polls. The announcement came after the state Congress leadership insisted on at least 10 seats, while the Trinamool was offering two. In damage control mode, Congress leaders have said Ms Banerjee is an integral part of INDIA bloc, but no formal seat-sharing arrangement has been announced so far.

In Punjab, AAP and Congress have decided to contest separately. AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has said the decision was mutual and that there is no hostility between the parties.

Akhilesh Yadav is among the Opposition leaders who have pushed for greater role for regional parties in their strongholds. "In many states, the Congress doesn't exist in comparison to the BJP, but regional parties are fighting tooth and nail against the saffron camp on the ground, and I am hopeful that they will succeed," he had said last year.

The Congress has been accused of pushing for more seats in states dominated by regional forces, but not returning the favour when it comes to its strongholds. The Nitish Kumar-led JDU had also targeted the Congress after it switched to the NDA camp.  

In fact, Samajwadi Party had decided to go solo in the recently held Madhya Pradesh elections after former Chief Minister Kamal Nath's "Akhilesh Vakhilesh" remark. Mr Yadav had then hit out at the Congress. "If the Congress continues to behave like this, then who will trust them? If we fight with confusion in mind against the BJP, then we won't succeed," he had said.