LUCKNOW: Though claimed to be in the last leg of negotiations over seats to be shared among the partners of SP-BSP alliance emerging on the horizon of Uttar Pradesh ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, rumblings over seat sharing are still on as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati apparently is bargaining hard with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav seeking a bigger share to contest.
However, both the regional satraps are believed to have unanimity over keeping the Congress out of the anti-BJP tie-up.
As per the highly placed sources, the formal announcement over the alliance is likely to be made jointly in Lucknow by Mayawati and Akhilesh on January 15, the birthday of both BSP chief and Akhilesh’s wife and Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav.
During their parleys in Delhi on Friday, Akhilesh and Mayawati apparently struck a broad understanding of fighting on equal number of seats – 37 each—in Uttar Pradesh leaving six for others of which Amethi and Rae Bareli will be left for Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi respectively.
Neither SP nor BSP will field candidate in Gandhi bastions.
However, of the rest four seats, two –Baghpat and Mathura -- may be given to Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Chaudhury Ajit Singh, while other two will be kept to accommodate prospective allies like OP Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) and Apna Dal (Krishna Patel), if at all, they join the alliance. Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the highest in the country.
Notably, SBSP chief OP Rajbhar, a minister in Yogi cabinet, has expressed his desire to leave NDA many times during the last two years.
The leadership of both SP and BSP is tight-lipped over the talks but if highly placed sources are to be believed, Mayawati allegedly is not content with her share. She is demanding more seats and trying to convince Akhilesh Yadav to spare seats to other allies, like RLD, from his chunk.
If Akhilesh sacrifices a few more seats succumbing to Mayawati’s pulls and pressures, SP will left with fewer seats along with the burden of accommodating allies as well.
The decision to keep the Congress out of the alliance has been taken in view of grand old party’s demand of around a dozen and a half seats, which SP and the BSP are not ready to concede, said a senior SP leader. Informed SP sources claimed that despite having decided to cobble up the alliance minus Congress, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had been in constant touch with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
“What is the difficulty in sparing the number of seats we are asking for?” asked a senior Congress leader in Lucknow.
“We are not being unreasonable. If 2014 is the bench mark, then BSP should not be given even a single seat as they had failed to even open account in previous general elections,” he maintained.