Amid Seat-Sharing Talks With Congress, Akhilesh Yadav Names 16 Candidates

New Delhi:

The Opposition INDIA bloc received another blow today — though not an unexpected one –– as the Samajwadi Party released a list of 16 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh amid seat-sharing talks with the Congress. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav made it clear that his party will do what it thinks is best and no clearance from the Congress is needed.

The Congress has been rebuffed by Mamata Banerjee in Bengal and AAP’s Bhagwant Mann in Punjab in terms of seat sharing. The whole Opposition has been jilted by NItish Kumar, who defected and took oath as the Bihar Chief Minister for the ninth time on Sunday, to head an alliance government with the BJP.

That the Samajwadi Party could be “difficult” became clear last year after the Congress’s local leaders in Madhya Pradesh refused to honour the central leadership’s agreement with Akhilesh Yadav for six seats.

State party chief Kamal Nath’s “Don’t know any Akhilesh-Vakilesh” comment had made it to headlines, sparking deep anger in the Samajwadi camp.

Mr Yadav issued a list of 16 candidates, sending a message to the Congress that if they want alliance in UP, they have to agree on what the Samajwadi Party offers. It is a clear indication that in UP, the Samajwadi Party will take decisions in the alliance in its own way.

In 80-seat Uttar Pradesh, Mr Yadav has offered the Congress 11 seats. In 2019, in alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party had not contested from Amethi and Rae Bareli as a gesture of courtesy.

Among the candidates named today is Dimple Yadav, the wife of the SP chief, who will be contesting from family bastion Mainpuri.

Mamata Banerjee has refused to share no more than two seats in Bengal, and in view of the Congress’s ambition for more, asked the party to introspect on its results. A similar point was made earlier by Akhilesh Yadav.

In 2019, the Congress had won 44 seats — very few of them in in the northeast or the Hindi belt. In Uttar Pradesh, it won only one seat, Raebareli, as Rahul Gandhi lost to Smriti Irani in Amethi

Mamata Banerjee has remarked that giving the Congress more than two seats is equivalent to giving them away to the BJP — a party she has been fighting for the last five years. In Bengal, the BJP has slid into the second spot, pushing out the Left Front.