Samajwadi Party’s announcement of candidates for nine seats currently held by it came as a bolt from the blue for the Congress on Friday night which failed to specify whether the grand secular alliance in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh was on or off.
Senior party spokesperson Ajay Maken merely described as “unfortunate” the action by the SP and steered clear of questions from reporters whether the tie-up with the party led by Akhilesh Yadav was continuing.
Insisting that alliance with SP was concluded in talks with Akhilesh, Maken said the Congress would wait for further talks on the issue between AICC General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
“This alliance was concluded earlier with none other than SP National President Akhilesh Yadav and leaders of the Congress and now again we are getting in touch with Akhilesh Yadav because it was with him that the alliance earlier was concluded.
“It is unfortunate... We were expecting that the seats and other... technical details which were agreed upon and concluded upon between Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leaders should be honoured,” Maken said.
He spoke in similar vein to a volley of questions at the AICC briefing indicating that the party was shell shocked by the sudden action from the Samajwadi Party. He did not answer a query whether Akhilesh has “crossed all limits” by the action, which has come as a “googly” for the Congress.
Talk in AICC circles was that Akhilesh had agreed to give as many as 121 seats to the Congress and that he appears to have come under BJP pressure.
In Lucknow, SP National Vice President Kiranmoy Nanda accused Congress of not giving any positive response to the party on alliance issue and said it could give the party only 85 of 403 Assembly seats.
The SP leader also said if the Congress wanted to defeat BJP, it should accept SP’s formula of seat-sharing.
When asked whether it has become difficult to forge alliance with Congress now, he said, “It will be too early to say so. We still want an alliance with Congress but on our own conditions. Poll process has already started and SP cannot wait for a long time.”
Prospects of a grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh appeared uncertain earlier as SP and Congress had aired divergent views on inclusion of RLD headed by Ajit Singh.
SP has been ruling out inclusion of Ajit Singh’s RLD in the alliance despite his party having some influence in Western Uttar Pradesh. Congress had been pitching for its inclusion and was planning to give some of its seats to RLD.