If Sense Prevails a Congress-BSP-SP Alliance Is Still Possible in UP
First wish list of the Congress of 11 seats accommodates SP-BSP interests
NEW DELHI: The Congress party has announced candidates for 11 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in what has become a rather illogical confrontation between the Opposition parties in the state. However, the list of seats announced indicates that this is only the Congress wish list, and could stop at that if the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party were to accept its claims, as Ahmed Patel earlier said, to a "double digit figure" for the state.
Of the 11, two are what the BSP-SP had left for the Congress first family, Amethi and Rae Bareilly. Despite the supposed breakdown in talks between the three parties, this offer was not withdrawn.
The other nine candidates are: Jitian Prasada (Dhaurahra), Annu Tandon (Unnao), RPN Singh (Kushi Nagar), Nirmal Kathri (Faizabad), Salman Khursheed (Farrukhabad), Salim Sherrwani (Badaun), Imran Masood (Saharanpur), Rajaram Pal (Akbarpur), Brij Lal Khabri (Jalaun-SC).
A look at the nine:
Farrukhabad: Salman Khursheed had won this seat in 2009, and lost the last elections to the BJP. It cannot be claimed as a traditional seat by the SP which won it in 1999 and 2004. However, Farrukhabad like most UP seats traditionally voted for the Congress before moving towards the Janata Party and subsequently the BJP that opened its account here in 1996.
Not a seat that the BSP or SP would be reluctant to give to the Congress.
Dhaurahra: This constituency, spread over the Lakhimpur Kheri and Sitapur districts came into existence in 2008 when parliamentary constituencies were delimited anew based on the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission of India constituted in 2002. It has seen two general elections, the first won by the Congress, the second in 2014 by the BJP.
A seat the BSP and SP can easily relinquish to the Congress.
Unnao: Again not a seat that the BSP or SP can claim with passion, as they have each won it once. Unnao voters have exercised their ballot for the Congress and the BJP with the Janata Party wresting it from the Congress in 1977. Since then the voters here have been without straight loyalties, voting intermittently for the BJP and the Congress. In 2014 the seat was won by the BJP.
A constituency that the SP and BSP might be quite happy to give up, as it could see a bit of a tussle given that both are equal claimants.
Kushi Nagar: This constituency also came into existence in the 2008 delimitation exercise. It has seen only two general elections with the Congress party winning the seat in 2009, and the BJP in 2014. The SP and BSP are not registered here for the moment.
A seat the Congress can claim without protest from the other two opposition parties.
Faizabad: A constituency with a decided Congress stamp. The SP and BSP have won this seat only once each, with the Congress securing it in 2009 to lose it to the BJP in 2014. Faiazabad has seen political churning with voters bringing in the Bharatiya Lok Dal, Communist Party of India, the BJP, BSP, SP and of course the Congress in the elections here since independence.
Again a seat that the Congress can easily claim as its own for the 2019 polls.
Badaun: This is one seat where the Congress could face trouble from the Samajwadi Party whose Dharmendra Yadav defied the BJP wave in the last elections to win. In fact he is a two-term MP. However, the Congress wants to field old SP member Saleem Iqbal Shervani from this seat. He won four consecutive parliamentary elections from here between 1996 and 2004.
Yadav, however, will not give this up easily and it remains to be seen which party finally backs off.
Saharanpur: Before the BJP won this seat in 2014, it had been held twice by the BSP and once by the SP in the past three elections. And before that again twice by the BJP. In fact the Congress last held this Lok Sabha seat in 1984. But its candidate won the Assembly election from here last year, leading clearly to the claim now. The BSP had won this seat in the prior Assembly polls.
This could be a slightly troublesome seat unless the BSP is prepared to accommodate the Congress, notwithstanding Mayawati’s public assertions. The SP certainly has little interest in this constituency.
Akbarpur: This is also a newly delimited constituency. The Congress won the parliamentary elections here in 2009. And the BJP in 2014. Neither the SP nor the BSP claim this seat.
Jalaun-SC: Interestingly, despite its being a seat reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates the BSP won here only in 1999, since when it has gone to the BJP, SP and BJP in that order. The Congress too barely exists here, having last won the polls in 1984.
This is an uncertain seat certainly in terms of coalition accommodation.
However, all said and done of the 11 seats at least nine claimed by the Congress party steer clear of BSP and SP claims in terms of past elections and votes. Sources said that talks were on and the Congress could agree to 11 for a broader coalition against the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
When asked about coalitions at his press conference yesterday Congress President Rahul Gandhi admitted that it had not worked out with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi because of the party's state unit, but “all other talks are on track.”
The Congress has so far remained well within the waters that take little time in turning into a storm in UP. It now remains to be seen whether this first wish list is accommodated and an alliance sealed, or whether the Congress continues to announce candidates for the 80 seats, which so far remains its public position. It is the BSP which needs placating to support the coalition, with Akhilesh Yadav still presenting the more benign face of the coalition for the Congress.