LUCKNOW: Just when it appeared that the chances of an alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Congress were almost over, in a new twist, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's close aide Ahmad Patel swung into action and reportedly got in touch with the SP top brass in Lucknow to revive the tie-up talks on late Saturday night.
The development, however, clearly indicates that the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has now personally pitched in the entire affair to ensure that it the alliance didn't fall apart, say highly placed sources in UP Congress. Sources in SP also confirmed the development. Earlier, the suspense over the alliance prevailed with the Congress hardening its stand by holding a meeting of its Central Election Committee (CEC) and finalising candidates on 140 seats for the first two phases. But keeping the hopes for the possible alliance with ruling SP alive, the party did not declare the candidates with senior leaders saying that pact talks were still on.
On the delay over releasing the party list, Congress general secretary and UP in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad said that party’s CEC had finalised candidates for 140 seats of western UP which would vote in the first and second phase of polls. On the tie-up with Samajwadi party, while Azad said that a formal announcement in that regard would be made on Sunday morning, UP Congress Committee (UPCC) chief Raj Babbar claimed that the party would go to the first two phases with full might. However, Babbar maintained the suspense by saying that there were no roadblocks in the alliance talks and if any he was not aware of them.
According to sources, during the day, both the Samajwadi party and the Congress hardened their respective stands on seat-sharing in the proposed alliance failing to end the deadlock. While the SP was not ready to conceded more than 99 seats, the Congress which was initially demanding 150, climbed down to 110 but refusing to settle for SP figure. However, the leaders of the two parties agree to the fact that the tie-up was more of a necessity than being an option in order to stop the communal forces from coming to power in the state.
It is believed that Amethi and Rae Bareli were one of the areas of disagreement between the two prospective alliance partners. While SP was not supposedly ready to leave any of the seats in Amethi and was adamant at contesting on all but one in Rae Bareli, Congress too hardened it stand seeking at least two seats in Amethi, its bastion and a prestige issue, as Amethi and Rae Bareli are represented by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, respectively, in Lok Sabha. Moreover, the Congress was also keen on roping in RLD into the alliance to which the SP did not agree, said the sources.