Amidst the intense power struggle within the Samajwadi party (SP) —between party patriarch, Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother, Shivpal Yadav on one side and Mulayam’s son, Akhilesh and cousin, Ramgopal Yadav on the other — comes the news that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is likely to meet Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 to discuss the strategy for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2017.
The Samajwadi Party and the Congress are likely to contest the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh as allies. The parties have been negotiating behind the scenes for almost a fortnight and are close to finalising a seat-sharing arrangement. If such a tie-up takes place in the upcoming state assembly polls, it would win over 300 seats.
“Though Samajwadis are going to form majority government in the state, but if alliance takes place, it will win over 300 (of the 403) seats.” Akhilesh Yadav had said in November of 2016, when asked about possibility of his party’s alliance with Congress.
Akhilesh Will be Chief Minister
The development of the two leaders, Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav proposing to meet today comes after Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, on Monday, negated the fact that he had any differences with his son Akhilesh Yadav, and that the latter would remain the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh following the upcoming assembly elections.
“There are some who have influenced my son (Akhilesh). I had a talk with him last night and also in the morning over the issue. There is no dispute between my son and me,” said Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The Proposed Alliance
- The seat-sharing formula will be based on the results of 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
- While the Samajwadi Party had won 224 seats, the Congress has won only 28.
- The SP was also runner-up on another 77 seats in 2012 and another five were won in the by-polls.
- The Congress was runner up in 25 seats.
- This totals 359 seats between the 2 parties.
- If the alliance comes through, the Congress will have less that 100 seats, but it will not be objecting as it would be the best performance for the party since the 1996 elections.
- The Congress, swept away to a distant fourth position in the power-play, is desperate to get back its foothold in the political world and being counted in the power stakes in Uttar Pradesh will make a big difference to the party. Congress has ruled in Uttar Pradesh for 27 years in the past, and may settle for anything between 60-70 seats, including the 20 sitting MLAs it has in the state Assembly, the sources said.
SP-Congress Ties Over the years
The SP-Congress parties have surely had a stormy past with many misgivings as well as petty differences between the two.
- Over the years, the SP had managed to push the Congress from the position of power in the state and establish itself as the main secular force in Uttar Pradesh.
- In 1991, while the SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had forged an alliance with the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, to be announced in Lucknow, he later went back on his word, dissolved the Assembly and went on to contest elections on his own.
- It is a known fact that Rahul Gandhi has always been uncomfortable dealing with the SP chief, though he believes he can do business with Akhilesh Yadav.
Biting the Bullet for Power
With the BJP winning the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with 71 seats and 42 per cent of the vote share, parties such as the SP and Congress are scrambling for alliances which will help them from undergoing complete demolition.
The SP-Congress alliance will have a significant impact on the battle for Uttar Pradesh. The SP now feels that the revival of the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh will help attract the minority votes in the upcoming assembly elections. Whereas, the alliance is being seen as a lifeline by the Congress Party, which is clearly fighting for survival in the state.
Experts feel that elections are not just about numbers and statistics. An alliance can be a winning combination only in the presence of right chemistry between the two parties. If a success, the parties are sure to reap the dividends in the 2017 assembly elections. If not, then the whole alliance may just backfire for both the parties.