UP Elections 2017: SP Announces First List, Is Akhilesh Playing Hardball?
The Samajwadi Party on Friday announced its first list of 191 candidates which seemed to shut the door on Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and baffle the Congress as the proposed ‘Grand Alliance’ comes under question.
Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav; Congress leader Rahul Gandhi
New Delhi: The Samajwadi Party on Friday announced its first list of 191 candidates which seemed to shut the door on Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and baffle the Congress as the proposed ‘Grand Alliance’ comes under question.
Of the 209 constituencies that go to polls in the first three phases, the SP left out only 18 for the Congress. Among the seats for which the SP announced candidates were nine seats held by sitting Congress MLAs, including Congress Legislative Party leader Pradeep Mathur’s seat of Mathura.
Minutes later, however, SP leader Kiranmoy Nanda assured reporters that alliance talks had not yet died out. He said, however, that they were willing to give only 85 seats to the Congress, as opposed to the 100 that the party had asked for. “After the first list, we have left 18 seats for the Congress. They should get only 54 seats but we are willing to go up to around 85,” he said.
Nanda added that the SP would also keep the Amethi assembly seat, which is the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, and that Congress had not staked claim to seats with sitting SP MLAs.
SP has announced candidates for all seven constituencies in Saharanpur district, which is the stronghold of UPCC vice president Imran Masood. SP has nominated its candidates for sitting Congress seats like Shamli, Hapur, Khurja and Mathura. In Deoband, the sitting Congress MLA Maviya Ali has been given an SP ticket.
All signs point to the fact that the list was the 43-year-old UP CM’s attempt at flexing his political muscle and tame the Congress’s expectations. While the Congress camp will be forced to come on to the table on Akhilesh Yadav’s terms, the list has dealt an even harder blow to the RLD.
Earlier, Akhilesh had distanced himself from RLD’s demands, and reportedly asked Congress to give a few seats to Ajit Singh’s party from their kitty. On Friday, Nanda, too, said that there had been “no talks” with the RLD.
The SP announced candidates on all three seats in Baghpat district, which was Ajit Singh’s Lok Sabha seat and was once represented by his father Chaudhary Charan Singh. In Mathura, which was the Lok Sabha seat of Ajit Singh’s son Jayant Chaudhary, SP has announced candidates on all assembly segments. RLD had indicated that they wanted to contest on two seats in Muzaffarnagar, another district that the SP has kept all to itself.
The RLD reacted sharply to the doors of coalition being closed on them. RLD General Secretary Trilok Tyagi said, “We will contest in all 403 seats in the state. The SP spoke to us and then went away. If Akhilesh doesn't want to be CM then what can we do? They (SP) are doing this under pressure from BJP. They are siding with the communal forces and we will not let that happen. Mulayam was right when he said some in his party are scared of CBI. At this stage, we can’t say if we will go with Congress if their talks fail too.”
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