The catchy one liner “UP ko ye saath pasand hai” dotting the Uttar Pradesh skyline does not seem to be reflected on the ground as fledgling alliance partners SP and Congress are crossing swords in over a dozen Assembly seats. “Yes, there are some seats on which candidates of both the parties are challenging each other. The issue will be resolved,” SP Chief Spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury told PTI when asked to comment on the issue.
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Even UP Congress chief Raj Babbar said the matter would be sorted out in a couple of days.
“Leaders of both parties will campaign in support of candidates declared by the alliance on the seats where nominees of both sides have filed their papers,” he said.
But, political observers say that with only a day left for the polling for the first phase on February 11 the damage seems to have been done already with candidates of both parties already on the ground.
“The alliance is set to witness some unfriendly contest in these seats,” they said.
The situation is worse in the Gandhi family pocket borough — Amethi and Raebareli — represented by Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi in Lok Sabha.
There are 10 assembly seats in Amethi and Raebareli.
In Raebareli’s Sareni seat Ashok Singh (Congress) and Devendra Pratap Singh (SP) are challenging each other.
Likewise, in Unchahar Ajay Pal Singh (Congress) is facing cabinet minister Manoj Kumar Pandey (SP).
In Amethi, sitting MLA and Mulayam SIngh Yadav loyalist Gayatri Prasad Prajapati is in the fray on SP ticket, while Congress has decided to field Amita Singh there.
In Gauriganj seat too, confusion prevails with Congress candidate Mohd Naeem challenging Rakesh Pratap Singh (SP).
The UP PCC chief, however, made light of the issue saying, SP candidates had filed their nomination papers when it appeared that the alliance will not come through.
“At some places they wanted to withdraw, they could not do so due to uncertainty,” he said.
A defiant Naeem, however, refused to withdraw his candidature despite the seat-sharing pact between SP and Congress.
He had unsuccessfully contested the last assembly polls from Gauriganj on a Congress ticket.
Ameeta Singh, the present wife of Congress leader Sanjay Singh, too is all set to file her nomination as a Congress nominee from Amethi seat from where Sanjay’s estranged first wife Garima Singh is contesting on a BJP ticket.
In state capital Lucknow, SP has already announced the name of senior minister and sitting MLA Ravidas Mehrotra for Lucknow (Central).
After the alliance, Maroof Khan of Congress also filed his nomination from the seat on the pretext of the high command’s order.
Both Mehrotra and Khan are on campaigning spree and not ready to withdraw and the face off might help BSP turncoat Brijesh Pathak, who is contesting on BJP ticket.
From Zaidpur seat in Barabanki, Congress has fielded Tanuj Punia, son of former bureaucrat and Congress Rajya Sabha member PL Punia. Tanuj is facing SP’s Ram Gopal Rawat, who was expelled from the party after refusing to withdraw.
In Kanpur, though Pramod Jaiswal, younger brother of former Union minister and senior Congress leader Sri Prakash Jaiswal, opted out from Arya Nagar (Kanpur) in favour of SP’s Amitabh Bajpai but could not withdraw his papers and technically remains a candidate.
In Muzaffarnagar, the Election Commission has allotted party symbols to the candidates of both Congress and Samajwadi Party from Purkazi assembly constituency, the seat which was given to Congress.
In other seats like Baldev (Mathura), Gangoh (Saharanpur), Kol (Aligarh), Purkaji (Muzaffarnagar), Chandpur (Bijnor), Mahrajpur (Kanpur), Kanpur Cant and Bhognipur (Kanpur dehat) Congress and SP candidates are facing each other.
Both the allies are also facing strong rebellion from those within the cadre who were aspiring for tickets but have been left high and dry under the seat sharing formula.
SP is facing a bigger challenge from its rebels, who are either fighting as Independents or from other parties in over 100 seats across the state.
When his attention was drawn to over ten seats where candidates of both SP and Congress have filed their papers despite forming an alliance, AICC General Secetary and in-charge of UP Ghulam Nabi Azad said SP candidates had filed their papers when they felt that the alliance will not take place.
Then there some places where they wanted to withdraw but could not due to uncertainity, he explained.
With the state in the midst of hectic electioneering, voters would be confused as to whom to elect and could cost both the alliance partners dearly, said analysts.
They said joint posters of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav might not send a message of unity unless ground realities were rectified.
Out of the 403 assembly seats, SP will contest 298 and Congress the rest 105.