LUCKNOW: The 10 Assembly seats in the Gandhi pariwar bastion — Amethi and Rae Bareli — continue to be a grey area in the SP-Congress pre-poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
While there were speculations that the two parties have resolved their differences over these seats as the nomination for the fourth phase started on Thursday, Congress’s fresh list of 29, released on Thursday evening, kept mum on the five contentious seats of these twin districts.
During the joint press conference with Akhilesh on January 29, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had downplayed the disagreement between the two parties over the issue saying that the seat-sharing in these two districts was not a core issue.
SP president and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had reportedly offered five of the 10 seats to the Congress, given its record in 2012, when it could win just two seats in the two districts. However, the issue remains stuck as Congress’s campaign committee chief Sanjay Singh said that the Congress would contest all the 10 seats in the two districts.
Being a Gandhi bastion, Amethi and Rae Bareli are more of sentimental value to the Congress party and it is an issue of their prestige. This is the reason why the Congress leadership has been harping on extracting as much seats as possible in the twin parliamentary segments. On the contrary, the SP has its own logic to stick to its contention that the two parties should share five seats each — it won eight out 10 in 2012. Therefore sparing five seats for the Congress was a fair deal, it thought.
Early in the day, reports said that the two allies had reached an understanding according to which the SP had agreed to spare eight of the 10 seats for the Congress. The two parties reportedly arrived at a consensus after Congress strategist Prashant Kishor reportedly met Akhilesh in the morning. However, till late in the evening, there was no clarity from both the two sides.
The two parliamentary seats – now represented by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and his son Rahul Gandhi — have been with the family for most of the times in the past several decades. However, Congress performance in the 10 Assembly seats of the two districts has been far from satisfactory of late. Amethi and Rae Bareli hold great emotional value for the Gandhi family. That’s why the Congress wants all 10 seats of the two districts from the SP.
In Rae Bareli, which has five assembly seats – Bachhrawan, Harchandpur, Rae Bareli, Sareni and Unchahar—the Congress was completely decimated, losing all five segments, finishing third in all except Harchandpur, where it stood second, in the last Assembly polls. Even the candidates of lesser known players like Rashtriya Swabhiman Party (RSP) fared better than the grand old party. Similarly, in Amethi parliamentary segment, the Congress could bag just two of the five seats — Tiloi and Jagdishpur — and faced a drubbing on the rest of three in the last polls.