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Uttar Pradesh Elections 2017: With Sonia Stepping in, Talks Over Seat Sharing Between SP-Cong Begin

File photo of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi (R) and Ghulam Nabi Azad. (Image: PTI)

File photo of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi (R) and Ghulam Nabi Azad. (Image: PTI)

The prospect of a pre-poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress seemed all but over after Congress did not show interest in the 99 seats offered by the SP; but with Sonia Gandhi stepping in there still is some hope.

Marya Shakil

New Delhi: The prospect of a pre-poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh between the Samajwadi Party and Congress seemed all but over after Congress did not show interest in the 99 seats offered by the SP; but with Sonia Gandhi stepping in there still is some hope.

According to sources, Akhilesh Yadav and Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor have begun seat sharing talks.

Sources in the Samajwadi Party said the Congress was offered 99 seats, but the latter wanted the number increased to 110. The SP had earlier offered the Congress 141 seats, but scaled it down to 121 after the Election Commission decided the cycle symbol dispute in favour of Chief Minster Akhilesh Yadav, who agreed to give some of the seats to candidates favoured by his father Mulayam, sources said.

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Sources added that the Congress had asked for 100-120 seats but was reluctant to accommodate Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) within this quota. It asked the SP for more seats, but the ruling party, which is opposed to a tie-up with the RLD, refused. The last straw apparently was the announcement of the Samajwadi Party’s first list of candidates, including for the Congress bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli.

The 403-seat Uttar Pradesh assembly heads to seven-phase elections on February 11.

“The news is almost true... It (talks) are almost on the verge of breaking. Congress wanted to have the upper hand… We tried our best,” said Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Aggarwal. Confirming the seat-sharing hurdle, Agarwal said: “We told them that we can't contest in less than 300 seats, but Congress was adamant as if they are a very influential party in Uttar Pradesh.”

Congress’s state president Raj Babbar, however, said talks were on. His party colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad asked reporters to wait for Sunday morning for a final word on the alliance.

(With agency inputs)


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