Akhilesh clique, Congress set for pre-election tie-up

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav | PTI

LUCKNOW: After months of speculation, a pre-poll alliance between the Samajwadi Party faction led by UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and Congress appears to be taking a concrete shape. Highly placed sources told Express that there have been several rounds of talks between Akhilesh and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi over the seat-sharing formula between both the parties.

The sources claimed that according to the alliance conditions, Congress is likely to contest in 90 seats. Initially, the talks were stuck as Congress was demanding more than 100 of the 403 seats which SP was not ready to concede. However, Akhilesh had been advocating a truck with the Grand Olda Party to touch the magic figure of 300.

Now, with a split in the party appearing imminent, the Akhilesh-led faction and Congress are going ahead with the alliance plan and a formal high-profile launch may happen any time next week in the presence of Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka, Akhilesh and his wife Dimple Yadav. Congress sources said a final decision may be made after January 13 when the Election Commission is likely to take a call on the allotment of bicycle symbol. 

“However, we are ready for an alliance even if the Akhilesh faction of SP doesn’t get the bicycle symbol,” a Congress leader told Express.

The talks for the proposed alliance which were going on at the level of Akhilesh and Priyanka got a jolt when SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav ruled out any alliance with any political player in the State. While releasing the list of 367 party candidates which ultimately intensified the intra-party feud in SP, Mulayam had said that SP would go it alone contesting in all the 403 assembly constituencies in the State.
In the 2012 assembly elections, Congress could get just 28 seats with a 7 per cent vote share. This time the party is pinning its hopes on the tie-up with SP to improve its tally through the consolidation of anti-BJP votes.

In the mean time, as the Samajwadi Party reached the brink of a vertical split, a desperate Congress had to put its efforts to stitch the much-needed alliance on the back burner till there was a clarity on who, between the two warring factions, would control the party affairs and win the symbol.

The alliance talks between the Congress leaders and the Akhilesh faction again gained traction when the latter appeared to have taken an upper hand in the family feud with the support of a majority of party legislators (209 MLAs, 56 MLCs, 15 MPs, and 4,700 party delegates) who signed affidavits in the CM’s support in the fight for party symbol.

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