Samajwadi Party, Congress announce seat-sharing deal in UP, MP for Lok Sabha polls

Sources say Priyanka Gandhi spoke with Akhilesh Yadav over the phone on Wednesday to break the deadlock on LS polls seat-sharing in the state and give a final shape to the alliance.
Samajwadi Party President and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Samajwadi Party President and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.File Photo | PTI

The Samajwadi Party and the Congress—partners in the INDIA bloc—on Wednesday announced a seat-sharing agreement in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress has been allotted 17 seats in Uttar Pradesh, while in Madhya Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party will contest in a single seat, Khajuraho, and support the Congress in the remaining constituencies in the state.

Among the 17 seats on which the Congress will contest in UP includes Raebareli and Amethi, once considered pocket boroughs of the party, and Varanasi, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency.

Earlier in the day, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said an alliance with the Congress will happen in Uttar Pradesh, days after his party said he would join Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra only if its seat-sharing proposal for the Lok Sabha polls is accepted.

The seat-sharing announcement was made at a joint press conference here by SP state chief Naresh Uttam Patel, SP national general secretary Rajendra Chaudhary, Congress state president Ajay Rai and AICC in-charge of UP Avinash Pande.

Pande said the Congress will contest on 17 seats, while on the rest of the 63 seats in the state, the SP and other alliance partners will contest.

SP state president Patel said, "The Congress will contest on 17 seats in UP and on the rest of the 63 seats, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav will decide candidates."

"Apart from Raebareli, Amethi and Varanasi, the other seats on which the Congress will be contesting include Kanpur City, Fatehpur Sekri, Basgaon, Saharanpur, Prayagraj, Maharajganj, Amroha, Jhansi, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Mathura, Sitapur, Barabanki and Deoria," Patel said.

Sonia Gandhi is presently the MP for Raebareli, while Rahul Gandhi lost his Amethi seat to BJP leader Smriti Irani in the 2019 polls.

The SP will contest the Khajuraho seat in Madhya Pradesh, which has 29 Lok Sabha seats, and support the Congress on the rest of the seats, Patel said. He said senior leaders of both parties will chalk out future programmes for the alliance.

On Monday, the SP had said it offered 17 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh to the Congress. It had earlier offered 11 seats to the Congress.

Yadav did not join the yatra in Raebareli on Tuesday.

"Yes, it (alliance) will happen in Uttar Pradesh. It will be announced soon," the Samajwadi Party (SP) chief told reporters in Moradabad when he was asked about a tie-up with the Congress in the state.

'Priyanka's call proves to be clincher'

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spoke with Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav over the phone on Wednesday to break the deadlock on Lok Sabha polls seat-sharing in Uttar Pradesh and give a final shape to an alliance at the earliest, sources said.

They said the alliance had been all but sealed and the only seat on which the SP has to take a call is Shrawasti, which the Congress is asking for.

The sources had said earlier that Congress was being given a "raw deal" with seats where winnability was low and the party was asking for alternative constituencies.

According to an agreement reached after the telephonic conversation between Priyanka Gandhi and Yadav, the Congress now has seats in places such as Sitapur and Barabanki. Besides these seats, the Congress is also likely to get Kanpur, Varanasi, Saharanpur, Amroha, Fatehpur Sikri and Jhansi, among others.

The Congress is now getting a "fair deal" in the alliance, a source said.

In the Moradabad division, the Congress was asking for two seats but has agreed on Amroha alone, the sources said.

There is a strong buzz that Yadav could join the yatra in Agra after the seat sharing deal is announced.

Ajay Rai, the chief of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee, had earlier said the party should get around two dozen seats it had won in the 2009 general elections, while Samajwadi Party's offer from Monday stood at 17.

"We have given a final offer of 17 Lok Sabha seats to the Congress. Akhilesh Yadav's participation in the Nyay Yatra in Raebareli on Tuesday will depend on their acceptance," Rajendra Chaudhary, the Samajwadi Party's chief spokesperson, had told PTI on Monday.

He,however, refused to identify the seats offered to Congress.

Samajwadi Party President and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Differences among INDIA bloc allies in couple of states, will be resolved: Sharad Pawar

The SP and the Congress are partners in the INDIA bloc, formed by opposition parties to take on the BJP in the upcoming general elections.

Last month, the Samajwadi Party had unilaterally announced 11 Lok Sabha seats for the Congress in UP. Caught off guard, the baffled leadership of UP Congress said that the seat-sharing talks with the SP were still on and the central leadership would take the final decision.

Later, SP also released its first list of candidates for 16 seats, including many like Lakhimpur Kheri and Farrukhabad, which the Congress had demanded.

And on Monday, immediately after offering 17 seats to the Congress, the SP released a second list of 11 party candidates for the polls. It covered at least three seats, which the Congress was demanding.

The success of the seat-sharing talks between the two is crucial, especially after the failure of such talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has decided to contest in her state alone.

Dealing a blow to the INDIA bloc in Uttar Pradesh, RLD president Jayant Chaudhary recently decided to part ways with the alliance and switch over to the ruling NDA.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress won only one seat, Rae Bareli. Rahul Gandhi lost to Smriti Irani in Amethi. The Samajwadi Party at that time refrained from contesting in Amethi and Rae Bareli as a gesture of courtesy towards the Congress. The support of the SP in Amethi and Rae Bareli will be significant for the Congress.

With 80 seats, the state sends the highest number of MPs to Parliament.

(With inputs from ENS, PTI and ANI)

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