Amidst the ongoing seat-sharing negotiations within the I.N.D.I. Alliance, a startling revelation has emerged, putting the spotlight on the unpreparedness of Congress leaders. Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav has rebuked Congress leaders for their lack of awareness, reminding them of the passing of a candidate a decade ago when they demanded a seat for him.
The late candidate in question is Mahaveer Prasad, who passed away ten years ago. Despite this reality, Congress persisted in seeking a seat for him, as disclosed in an article published in the Indian Express.
Talks between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh have been ongoing, with the Congress aiming to contest in fifteen to twenty seats, while the Samajwadi Party has indicated readiness for five to six seats.
However, a unilateral move by Akhilesh Yadav saw him unexpectedly announcing eleven seats for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. Caught off guard by this announcement, Congress stated that seat-sharing discussions with the Samajwadi Party are still underway.
Among the seats allocated to Congress are Amethi and Rae Bareli, formerly strongholds of the party, along with Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, and Bareilly.
The initial meeting between the SP and Congress leaders saw a sudden halt when Akhilesh Yadav pointed out that Mahaveer Prasad, proposed by Congress for the Bansgaon constituency seat, had passed away a decade earlier.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress contested 67 out of 80 seats but managed to win only one (Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli), securing a meagre 6.36 per cent vote share across the state.
Meanwhile, the SP and the BSP, in alliance, reduced the BJP’s tally from 71 to 62. BSP contested 38 seats, winning 10 with a vote share of 19.43 per cent, while SP contested 37 seats, winning five with an 18.11 per cent vote share.
Sources within the SP revealed that the party has requested one Lok Sabha seat from Congress in Madhya Pradesh to contest in alliance.
“We have asked the Congress to give either Khajuraho or Tikamgarh. The Congress lost these seats by a margin of more than 3 lakh votes in 2019 and the SP had finished third securing over 40,000 votes…,” an SP leader said.
“Our cordial alliance with Congress is making a good start with 11 strong seats… This trend will move forward with the winning equation. ‘India’ team and ‘PDA (Pichada (backwards), Dalits and Alpasankhyaks (minorities)’, ” strategy will change history,” Yadav said in a post on X.
Notably, Yadav’s declaration followed a statement he made a day earlier, asserting that the primary responsibility for maintaining unity within the opposition alliance lay with the Congress.
In response to Yadav’s remarks, Jairam Ramesh, the communication head of Congress, confirmed ongoing discussions between the SP and Congress. Ramesh highlighted that senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot was actively engaging with Yadav.
Ramesh expressed optimism about the progress of the discussions, stating that they were proceeding positively. He indicated that an announcement would be made once the seat-sharing formula was finalised.
He emphasised the constructive nature of the talks and revealed that Gehlot and Yadav were in regular communication, with plans for a forthcoming meeting.
Ramesh reiterated the belief that the agreement reached would be advantageous for all parties involved, including the SP, Congress, and the broader INDI Alliance.
Regarding the timing of Yadav’s announcement, sources within the SP disclosed that it followed recent discussions between Yadav and Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, as well as Gehlot.
The sources explained that while the SP had initially agreed to allocate eight seats to Congress, the latter was seeking more than 20 seats. Consequently, it was decided that top Congress leaders would engage in direct dialogue with Akhilesh Yadav if additional seats were insisted upon.
Following these discussions, it was concluded that Congress would be allotted 11 seats.
Addressing the SP’s demand for a seat in Madhya Pradesh (MP), a senior SP leader elaborated on the failed alliance talks between the two parties for the state’s Assembly elections.
The leader emphasised the significance of securing a seat in MP, particularly in light of the BJP’s strategic targeting of the Yadav vote bank in Bihar and UP through the appointment of Mohan Yadav as Chief Minister.
Offering a seat to SP in MP would enable Akhilesh Yadav to campaign effectively and convey a message to Yadav voters.
Yadav’s announcement of the seats to Congress coincided with the recent declaration by the SP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), both members of the INDI Alliance, regarding the latter’s intention to contest in seven seats as part of the seat-sharing arrangements.