SP to do deft bargaining with Cong for pan-India expansion

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New Delhi, Aug 29 (UNI) Perturbed by Ms Mayawati's pan-India dream and her emerging position as the third front leader, the Samajwadi Party while giving the much-needed prop to the Congress in Uttar Pradesh through an electoral alliance, would try to extract maximum advantage from the ruling party in parts of the country where it has a weak presence.

It would do a hard bargaining with the Congress to strengthen its position in states like Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra say political observers.

''More than joining the Government, our worry is now to conclude an all-India seat adjustment for the coming Lok Sabha and several state assembly polls, as soon as possible,'' a senior Samajwadi party leader said, pointing out that the BSP was already in the process of declaring names.

The process of seat adjustment between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress would gain momentum now with the highest decision-making body of the Uttar Pradesh Congress, the 38-member Coordination Committee headed by AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, formally approving a pre-poll alliance with the Samajwadi Party.

The ratio of seats to be contested by the two parties would be finalised at a meeting of senior leaders of the two parties which is likely to be held here tomorrow or day after tomorrow.

The decision to expedite the process was taken by the Congress leadership after the Samajwadi Party, which had come to the rescue of the Manmohan Singh Government during the trust vote on the nuclear deal, had expressed its concern over what it called the delay on the part of the Congress in formaising a pan-India electoral alliance.

The formal clearance of the electoral alliance by the Congress has come as a great relief for SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, as earlier, there were a number of Congressmen, both at the Centre and in the state, who were opposed to any electoral ties with the Samajwadi Party.

Rahul Gandhi headed 38-member Coordination Committee has urged the party high command to go for a secular front in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha polls, keeping all options open for a pre-poll alliance besides expanding the alliance in other states.

The members asked the party leadership to include all the secular parties like the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in the new front in the state.

In such a situation, the SP leaders will have to do a deft and hard bargaining with the Congress for a satisfactory share of seats in Uttar Pradesh and other states.

The crisis over the nuclear deal caused by the withdrawal of the Left support to the Congress-led UPA goverbment had brought the Congress and the SP, a key political player in the politics of Uttar Pradesh, close to each other.

The SP also needed a ruling party at the Centre as an ally in view of its arch rival Bahujan Samaj Party of Ms Mayawati ruling in the state and using its power alegedly to harass SP actvists and leaders.

The SP had won 40 Lok Sabha seats in the last general elections and secured a little over 100 seats in the Assembly elections. So despite having been defeated by the BSP, the SP was still a force.

The Congress which had fared badly in both the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, having secured only 16 and nine seats respectively in the state, knows well that it cannot stop the march of Ms Mayawati without the SP's support in the Hindi heartland.

UNI NAZ SP CS1602

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