The Samajwadi Party on Thursday ruled out the possibility of a Mahagathbandhan or grand alliance as it denied talks of any tie-up with Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, reported PTI. “We will forge an alliance only with the Congress. We will not ally with the RLD. We will contest from over 300 seats [out of 403] and the Congress will be there for the rest of them,” said SP national Vice President Kironmoy Nanda.
The decision was made after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav held a six-hour-long meeting with party leaders. The RLD and Samajwadi Party reportedly did not agree on the number of seats to be shared, according to The Indian Express. However, RLD spokeperson Anil Dubey told the newspaper, “We wanted the seats of our choice but there was no agreement on it.”
The RLD curries a lot of favour among the Jat community in the state, according to NDTV. The Jat community forms 17% of western Uttar Pradesh’s votes. In the 2012 Assembly election, the RLD had won nine seats.
This is not the first time alliance talks between the RLD and SP have fallen through. During the Bihar Assembly election in 2015, the SP had decided to go alone after the party was finally conceded only five seats to contest. The SP initially had demanded 27, but later agreed to contest from 12 seats.
Regarding the alliance with the Congress, spokesperson Nanda said, “SP has finalised its candidates for the first and second phases. Now, it is up to the Congress to decide on their nominees.” He said that Akhilesh Yadav would announce the details later, adding that the party would also release its poll manifesto soon.
On January 17, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had said that his party would fight the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections in alliance with the state’s ruling Samajwadi Party under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav. After this, Congress veteran and three-time chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, withdrew her chief ministerial candidacy, saying that there cannot be two candidates for the position.
Elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases, starting on February 11.