New Delhi: The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance which was promising to alter the political equations for Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh is in trouble. Hectic negotiations for the last few days hit a wall on Friday when both sides, off the record, called the other's demand for more seats unreasonable. Amidst building tension, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav started talks with Congress leaders through back channels to iron out the differences since Saturday morning.
- Akhilesh Yadav's list of candidates left the Congress upset
- Congress seeks 110 seats, rejects final offer by Akhilesh, say sources
- Congress was voted out of power in UP by Mulayam Singh Yadav in 1989
At the heart of the trouble were two key issues - how many seats will each get and which seat will go to which party.
By evening the talks were stalled once again. Akhilesh Yadav, who started bargaining from not more than 85 seats in the morning made the final offer by late afternoon. He has now put them all in the Congress's court by agreeing to give 99 of the 403 seats to the Congress. But the Congress wants nothing less than 104 - it had asked for 110.
The two parties had sent out all the right signals till Monday last. But when the two camps sat down for seat sharing talks trouble erupted. Senior Samajwadi Party leaders today indicated that Akhilesh Yadav who has already announced 210 candidates - some even on seats held by Congress legislators - may announce few more if talks fail as time is running out and nominations for the first phase are ending on January 24.
The chief minister is not waiting for the alliance to be through in more ways. Tomorrow, Akhilesh Yadav will be releasing his party's manifesto in Lucknow.
Sensing tie-up trouble, top Congress leaders had rushed to Lucknow. The Congress which has been reduced to player number four in Uttar Pradesh was eyeing the alliance to recover ground. While senior Samajwadi Party leaders maintain that the Congress doesn't have the footprint strength to initially demand nearly 130 seats, the Congress says anything less will hurt the national party's interests.
Samajwadi Party sources say the alliance is not taking off as the Congress wants it to surrender some seats it had won in 2012.
However, insiders say that the real tussle is over seats where minority vote holds sway. The Congress was edged out of power in Uttar Pradesh by Akhilesh Yadav's father Mulayam Singh Yadav in 1989. The rise of 'Mullah Mulayam' brought the drift of minority vote to the Samajwadi Party from the Congress. While the Samajwadi Party is keen to maintain its most favoured party status among Muslims, the Congress wants to regain lost ground via the alliance.