With Akhilesh Yadav gaining upper hand in the power game in Samajwadi Party, Congress seems to be moving closer to an alliance with the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh to keep Muslim-Yadav equation intact. Akhilesh is keen on an alliance with Congress, saying the parties together could net more than 300 of the state’s 403 seats, though Mulayam is opposed to such partnership and had ruled out a tie-up with any party.
Congress has, however, not ruled out the possibility of a pre-poll alliance with like-minded parties like Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and its chief ministerial face Sheila Dikshit has gone to the extent of offering to step aside in favour of young Akhilesh. Reports were doing the rounds that Akhilesh was likely to meet Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi in Delhi early next week and a deal could be struck.
Soon after the announcement of poll schedule for five states, including the key state of UP, Congress spokesman Shaktisinh Gohil said the party has kept its options open to ally with Samajwadi Party to stop “fascist” forces from coming to power. On her part, Dikshit said, “There are unconfirmed reports of an alliance with Samajwadi Party. If that happens, certainly I would like to see a young chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.”
If there is an alliance between Congress and SP, the results would be good, she said, though Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad did not openly advocate alliance with any party for the coming polls. “As of now, we are working on the recommendations of the screening committee for all the 403 seats in the state… What can happen in future will be known in time… But there is a lot of pressure on secular parties (for alliance),” he had said here on Wednesday.
Talks for an alliance with Congress had hit a roadblock with Mulayam ruling out such a possibility and favouring only merger of parties with SP. With the Akhilesh faction breaking away from the parent Samajwadi Party, the possibility of an alliance with Congress has suddenly brightened.
As Muslims, the traditional vote bank of Samajwadi Party, appeared to be a confused lot, BSP supremo Mayawati is eyeing the minority community, giving a lion’s share of tickets to Muslims, to bolster her party’s electoral prospects. Realising this, SP might join hands with Congress to bring about a greater consolidation of Muslim voters that should boost the allies in terms of countering BSP. Mayawati has been cautioning Muslims that if they voted for SP, which is already in doldrums, they will be indirectly helping BJP.
BSP has decided to field as many as 97 Muslim candidates of the 403 seats, the highest number fielded by any party in UP so far, perhaps to present itself as a true well-wisher of the community and as a party that can stall BJP in its tracks. Congress and SP leaders believe that an alliance between them will reassure voters that the regional party’s core Yadav-Muslim combination is intact.