Differences in SP over Cong inclusion in grand alliance

Differences in SP over Cong inclusion in grand alliance

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav

Sharp differences have cropped up within the Samajwadi Party (SP) over the inclusion of Congress in the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh to counter the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

While the SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav was not averse to having Congress in the alliance, several senior party leaders, including the SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, were not in support of including India's grand old party.

Mulayam went to the extent of saying that Congress could win only two seats (Amethi and Raebareli) on its own. ''It cannot win more than two seats in UP,'' the SP patron had said recently.

Another senior SP leader from Maharashtra Abu Azmi wrote a letter to Akhilesh voicing his opposition to any kind of electoral alliance with the Congress and even threatened to rebel if his suggestion was ignored.

Finding itself isolated in UP's electoral politics, Congress feels that it is ''nothing more than pressure tactics'' by the SP.

UP Congress vice-president Imran Masood said that his party would not have any electoral alliance with SP or BSP in the next Lok Sabha polls and would contest alone, though he cleared the party might ally with some smaller parties.

Sources within the SP said that the party leaders did not want to give too many seats to Congress in the event of a grand alliance. ''Congress should not be given more than five-six seats,'' said a senior SP leader here.

SP leaders, who were in favour of having the Congress on board, said that any division in the Muslim votes, especially in the western UP region, would benefit the BJP.

Sources said that formal talks between the Opposition parties, mainly the SP and BSP, on the alliance may start in the next couple of months. Both Akhilesh and BSP supremo Mayawati have said that they are ready for an alliance to take on the BJP.

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