Congress could be eyeing SP as alternative ally (News Analysis)

January 4th, 2012 - 5:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Lucknow, Jan 4 (IANS) Is the Congress eyeing the Samajwadi Party (SP) as an alternative ally to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), whose leader Mamata Banerjee’s tantrums are causing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) much embarrassment?

The question is being speculated in political circles in Uttar Pradesh, where the political cauldron is gradually heading for a boil ahead of the February assembly elections.

Political analysts feel it would suit both the Congress and the SP to keep their doors open for a post-poll tie-up in the state because neither are in a position to get close to a majority in the 403-member state assembly.

Currently, the Bahujan Samaj Party has a strength of 218, the SP 88, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 58, the Congress 22 and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has 10 seats.

“While Congress could join hands even with BSP after the elections, SP would have no choice but to go for alliance with the Congress because of its ideological antipathy towards BJP and being opposed to Mayawati,” observed a senior political science professor of Lucknow University.

As for the Congress, a post-poll handshake with SP could help kill two birds with one stone. Apart from seeking to work out a Congress-RLD-SP axis in the state, Congress would also see itself in a less vulnerable position in the face of repeated threats from the Trinamool.

The SP would prove to be a valuable ally in the Lok Sabha — while the Trinamool has 19 members, the SP has 21. The Congress has already struck a deal with Ajit Singh’s RLD that has five members and became a part of the UPA last month.

Though both the Congress and SP are unwilling to make any categorical statement, they make no bones about keeping their options open for a post-poll alliance in the state.

While not ruling out anything in the post-poll scenario, SP state president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son Akhilesh Yadav told IANS: “It would be too early to comment on what our party would like to do after the elections. But let me tell you that we are all set to form the next government in Uttar Pradesh.”

State Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi echoed a similar noncommittal line.

“Our aim is to emerge as an alternative to the ruling BSP and your question about a post-poll alliance is hypothetical. I am not prepared to answer a hypothetical question.”

The equation between the Congress and the the Trinamool is getting increasingly uneasy, with Trinamool’s chief Mamata Banerjee in her latest move accusing the former of colluding with her arch foe, the Communists.

She has also bitterly opposed and blocked some key policies and bills of the UPA government, including the anti-corruption Lokpal bill.

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