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Floundering SP-Congress Talks Put Spotlight on Negotiation Skills of Gen Next

A proposed, potentially game-changing alliance between Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) is now hanging on a thread posing serious questions over the negotiation skills of both Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi as well as the ambitions of the new doyen of SP, Akhilesh Yadav.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:January 21, 2017, 7:54 PM IST
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Floundering SP-Congress Talks Put Spotlight on Negotiation Skills of Gen Next
A combination of images showing Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi (L) and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav.
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New Delhi: A proposed, potentially game-changing alliance between Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) is now hanging on a thread posing serious questions over the negotiation skills of both Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi as well as the ambitions of the new doyen of SP, Akhilesh Yadav.

The alliance, whose “inevitability” was much publicised by both the Congress and SP leadership while the faction feud for SP was going on has now reached a deadlock and could be squarely blamed on the inability of both parties to grasp fast-changing political situations.

SP leaders told News18 that now that Akhilesh has got the SP lock, stock and barrel, it would be the Congress that would benefit more from the tie-up.

As for Congress, comparisons are inevitable with Sonia Gandhi who had beaten all odds to reach out to unlikely allies like DMK and stitched a formidable alliance in UPA that went on to rule New Delhi for a decade.

Those in the know say that as long as Congress was ok with 100 seats – including a certain share to be apportioned to Ajit Singh’s RLD whose writ is limited to 3 districts – things were fine.

But the talks reached a deadlock when Congress negotiators pushed the envelope too far and asked for more seats so that after accommodating RLD Congress could be left with at least 100 for itself.

Sources said SP was miffed as Congress chose bureaucrats like Dhiraj Srivastava, a Rajasthan cadre officer and in-charge of grievance cell of Rae Bareli and Amethi, to carry on the negotiations instead of deputing senior leaders who understand the nuances of political deal-making.

A shocked Congress watched as SP released seats for 5 phases, including in the Gandhi family pocket boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli.

With Congress continuing to be a marginal player in the state – a point that Mayawati asserted in her press conference on Saturday – if the alliance breaks it will make the party’s prospects bleaker. It certainly doesn't augur well for the leadership of Rahul, and more importantly, Priyanka, who has been at the forefront of the UP negotiations.

The UP assembly polls is seen by many as a test-dose for the 2019 General Elections, and the inability of Rahul and Priyanka to stitch together a seemingly-natural alliance would be embarrassing to the party.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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