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Akhilesh Yadav In Dilemma Over How Many Seats To Give Up For I.N.D.I.A. Allies In UP

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New Delhi: 65, 60 or 55? How many seats will Akhilesh Yadav agree to? The minds of Uttar Pradesh Congress leaders are stuck at this question amid seat-sharing talks. There is another meeting on Friday. Meanwhile, Akhilesh has asked the Samajwadi Party leaders to be fully prepared for every seat. In a meeting of party legislators in Lucknow, Yadav also discussed the names of probable candidates. The I.N.D.I.A. parties have suggested many formulas for seat-sharing in UP, but no consensus has been reached. Being the largest opposition party in UP, SP wants as many seats as possible.

In the Lucknow meeting, Akhilesh took suggestions from the legislators in sealed envelopes. Akhilesh also showed some softness towards BSP chief Mayawati during that meeting. Despite this, he is apprehensive that Congress might spoil SP’s game in the seat-sharing deal.

With the support of ‘new Hindutva’, BJP has made Uttar Pradesh a strong fortress. The faces of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath fetch votes. The I.N.D.I.A. parties feel that BJP can only be defeated by fighting together. In such a situation, Congress or SP, both are ready to soften a bit. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had said in an internal meeting a few days ago that the party would focus on 255 seats. That is, Congress is ready to make room for the I.N.D.I.A. allies.

Meanwhile, after the meeting of Congress and SP on Tuesday, a SP leader told The Indian Express that the party is ‘flexible’ and will make room for ‘winnable’ candidates. In that meeting, it was decided that the parties would give the list of seats from where they can win, along with the names of probable candidates. Then it will be decided which party’s candidate is most beneficial according to the social situation of the region.

A SP leader explained, ‘If there is more OBC population on a seat, we will see which party’s OBC candidate is more popular.’

Akhilesh’s party is constantly in touch with Congress but also a bit skeptical. The reason is- Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In 2019, BSP and SP had formed an alliance and fought the Lok Sabha elections, but performed poorly. This time Mayawati has announced to fight alone but now the party’s command is in the hands of new blood- Akash Anand.

BSP’s core vote bank has shifted to BJP rapidly. In such a situation, Anand’s challenge is to save the party’s existence. In the 2022 assembly elections, BSP won only one seat. Congress wants BSP to also become a part of I.N.D.I.A.

UP Congress chief Ajay Rai had said on 10 January that BSP should think about joining hands with the opposition for the 2024 elections. This is why Akhilesh wants to keep his preparations complete. The names of probable candidates are being finalized. After the seat-sharing talks are finalized, SP will withdraw from the seats that will have to be left.

Akhilesh Yadav had earlier said that SP would contest on 65 seats. However, in a meeting of legislators in Lucknow on Tuesday, Akhilesh indicated to contest on 60 seats. He said that Jayant (RLD leader) is asking for 8 seats. They are trustworthy allies, they will be given 8 seats. Congress can be given 10 seats and other allies 2-3 seats.

Most of the seats of Congress and RLD will fall in West UP. Congress is preparing to focus on those seats through Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Nyay Yatra’. RLD’s traditional vote bank is in this region. SP has thought of giving at least two seats to its faction (Kamervadi) and others. If the seat-sharing talks are settled before Rahul’s yatra enters UP, SP and RLD can also join it. This will also send a message of opposition unity.

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