SP plays down differences with Cong on seat-sharing for UP

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New Delhi, Sep 30 (UNI) The Samajwadi Party(SP), which had of late been giving strong indications that its talk with the Congress on seat-sharing in Uttar Pradesh for the coming Lok Sabha Polls had run into rough weather, today tried to play down the differences with its new-found ally, which is the ruling party at the Centre.

SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and party General Secretary Amar Singh denied that there were any hitches in the talks.

''There was no problem as such,'' said Mr Yadav, and Mr Singh said, ''There were neither any hitches, nor will there be in future,'' when asked about the progress of the talks with the Congress.

They were talking to reporters after meeting Railway Minister and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad whom they handed over a cheque of Rs 1 crore for the Bihar flood relief.

Last week, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is reported to have written a letter to the SP laying claims to 21 seats for her party.

The Congress list included seats of Rampur, Padrauna and Pratapgarh on which the SP has sitting MPs and has refused to give up. The SP had recently declared at a press meet that it was not willing to part with more than 13 out of 80 parliamentary constituencies.

In the last Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had won nine seats in Uttar Pradesh while it was the runner-up on six seats, third in seven, totalling 21 seats it wants the SP to concede.

The SP is refusing to accept the Congress arguing that delimitation had changed the situation that had existed in the last elections.

The Congress does not want to irritate its state and local leadership by giving up claims on seats like Rampur.

The party recently tried to please the SP by not admitting the four SP MLAs who left that party in Madhya Pradesh.

The next round of talks between the Congress and the SP was slated for last week but could not be held due to some reasons. Now the talks are expected after the coming festival holidays.

The SP, which has 39 MPs in the Lok Sabha and over 100 Members in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, is a major force in the politics of Uttar Pradesh despite having been defeated by the its arch rival, the Bahujan Samaja Party, led by Dalit leader Mayawati.

The party came closer to the Congress during the crisis on the nuclear deal a development that was being seen by political observers as a result of the common threat posed to both the parties by the increasing political ambitions of BSP supremo Mayawati and also her all out bid to create a pan-India vote base.

The SP with 39 MPs, who had played a crucial role in the survival of the Manmohan Singh Government during the trust vote on the nuclear deal on July 22, had been offerred seat in the Cabinet, but it had refused, saying that it would concentrate on the coming elections.


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