SP-Cong tensions in UP simmer over seat sharing, likely inclusion of BSP
Lucknow, Jan 6 (IANS) More and more issues are emerging, instead of getting resolved, between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) – the two main constituents of the INDIA bloc in Uttar Pradesh.
The latest stumbling block between the SP and the Congress is the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
While the SP is against the BSP joining the alliance of 28 Opposition parties, the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) President Ajay Rai, is urging BSP President Mayawati to “seriously consider” joining the group.
SP’s representative in the bloc’s coordination committee, Javed Ali Khan, said, “Ajay Rai has a BJP background. And the Congress must take cognisance of his remarks.”
To complicate matters further, Mayawati recently told her party cadres not to make any remarks against INDIA bloc members since the BSP was now keeping its options open regarding alliances.
This has further irked the SP which suspects that the Congress may bring BSP into the INDIA fold at the last minute.
Tension between the two parties has heightened because of this.
The main problem in Uttar Pradesh is that Akhilesh Yadav is a state leader but is positioning himself as a national leader and wants to command the scenario. The Congress, apparently, does not give much importance to ‘junior partners’ like the SP and the party high command had maintained a studied silence on the Uttar Pradesh situation till now.
Talks on seat sharing have not even taken off. Unity is, therefore, torn apart by one-upmanship between the SP and the Congress.
The debacle in three states in the recent Assembly polls has not brought any change in the Congress’ attitude and it continues to turn a blind eye to problem areas.
After the Congress’ drubbing in the Assembly polls, the SP is also in the “I-told-you-so” mood, conveniently forgetting its own dismal performance in Madhya Pradesh.
“The Congress has no business to put any terms for the alliance in UP. We are the biggest challengers to the BJP and the seat distribution will be in accordance to the political relevance of a party,” said a senior SP leader.
SP spokesperson Fakhrul Hasan Chaand went on to say that given the political landscape in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress only deserved two Lok Sabha seats – possibly Rae Bareli and Amethi.
He mentioned that the Congress suffered defeat in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh due to its misguided decisions, weakening the unity of the INDIA bloc.
Fakhrul Hasan Chaand explained that granting more seats would inadvertently assist the BJP and to defeat the saffron party, the Congress should align itself with the SP.
Senior SP leader IP Singh even took to social media platform X on Monday to accuse Priyanka Gandhi of having struck “a deal” with the BJP at the Centre and went on to explain in detail how her choices in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have led to the BJP’s victory and the Congress party’s defeat.
A senior party functionary, known for his proximity to Akhilesh Yadav disclosed that seat-sharing talks will depend on the attitude of the other party.
“We know that we are the only party that can challenge the BJP in UP and other members of the INDIA bloc should also accept this fact,” he said.
However, he said that the SP would remain a part of the Opposition bloc and would even attend the meetings of the alliance.
The Congress has not yet formally placed any demand for seats but state leaders say that they would want a respectable share, keeping in mind their national status.
The Congress dismissed the allegations of the SP as completely unfounded and irrelevant and did not react to its barbs.
So far, there has been no effort from either of the parties to resolve issues and ease tensions between them. However, as a member of the INDIA bloc, SP is keen not to isolate itself among Opposition members but it also wants to remain in the driving seat in Uttar Pradesh – both of which cannot happen simultaneously.
Akhilesh’s blow-hot, blow-cold relationship with the Congress and lack of clarity on the issue has left his party cadres perplexed.
“We do not know what our relationship with the Congress is. There is a strange distance between the two parties at the ground level which will make a poll alliance unpalatable during elections, if the differences are not ironed out now. As Opposition parties, we do not speak the same language and neither are we on the same page where major issues are concerned,” said a senior party MLA.
Moreover, Akhilesh Yadav may be an unchallenged leader in his party but he remains confused about his own status, strategies and political moves.
Akhilesh has been peddling soft Hindutva but allows leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya to make anti-Hindu statements often.
The SP continues to rely heavily on its Muslim voters but Akhilesh is equally wary of speaking out on issues related to the minorities.