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SP-Congress alliance in transit, announcement in next two days

With Akhilesh Yadav officially sealing the control over Samajwadi Party after Election Commission verdict, a grand alliance for Uttar Pradesh with Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) with its junior partners, is soon to be announced.
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi January 16, 2017 23:41 IST
India TV Politics Desk

With Akhilesh Yadav officially sealing the control over Samajwadi Party after Election Commission verdict, a grand alliance for Uttar Pradesh with Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) with its junior partners, is soon to be announced.  

The announcement of the alliance is to be made within the next 48 hours, along with the seat sharing formula and candidate list for at least first two phases, sources said.  

Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will personally make the announcement, sources added. 

Uttar Pradesh -- the country's most populous and politically significant state -- will go to elect its 403-member state assembly in seven phases: February 11 (73 seats), February 15 (67 seats), February 19 (69 seats), February 23 (53 seats), February 27 (52 seats), March 4 (49 seats) and March 8 (40 seats). Results will be declared on March 11. 

The Election Commission today recognised the faction headed by UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as the Samajwadi Party and allotted the reserved symbol 'Bicycle' to it for contesting the coming Assembly elections.  

"The commission hereby answers the issue by holding that the groups led by Akhilesh Yadav is the Samajwadi Party and is entitled to use its name and its reserved symbol Bicycle for the purposes of the Election symbols (Reservation and allotment) order 1968," the three-member Election Commission headed by Nasim Zaidi said in its order. 

The verdict comes a day ahead of the start of the filing of nominations in the seven-phased polls in the state beginning on February 11. 

The order, dealing a major blow to Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, came after the EC heard the two sides on Friday. 

Ram Gopal Yadav, who led the fight for the Akhilesh faction at the EC, hoped that the alliance with Congress will happen. 

"The party president will be deciding it. I hope it will happen,” Ram Gopal Yadav, said on party's plans for an alliance with Congress. 

Reacting to the EC order, Yadav said, "The EC took the right decision as they (Mulayam camp) did not have any supporting documents to claim symbol and party name."  

"The Chief Minister is very happy," he said. 

The Congress also hailed as "judicious" the Election Commission's decision. 

"We congratulate Akhilesh on being allotted the cycle symbol. Election Commission has taken a judicious decision in record time," Congress spokesman R P N Singh said, adding the UP Chief Minister had 90 per cent of the party including legislators on his side. 

Even as the infighting continued in the Samajwadi Party, Congress and the Akhilesh-led faction were busy stitching up a grand secular alliance in the state in an apparent bid to prevent BJP from coming to power in the politically key state. 

While SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has not been supporting the idea of an alliance with any party, Akhilesh had been keen on joining hands with the Congress. He had even predicted that a Samajwadi-Congress combine can win over 300 seats.

The Chief Minister had held preliminary discussions with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi in December, in which both sides showed their willingness to align ahead of the polls. But the infighting within the UP’s first family delayed the declaration of pact.

Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, now the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate in UP, has also favoured a pre-poll alliance with the SP, and that she was ready to step aside as CM nominee. 

Today, while reacting to EC verdict, she congratulated Akhilesh but refused to give a direct reply on the alliance. 

However, she indicated that talks were underway between the two sides.

"I will not say anything at this point. The party will take a call on the issue. Let's see what happens. It will not be proper to say anything till something happens," Dikshit said. 

Earlier this month, Dikshit had said in case of an alliance, Akhilesh was likely to be the face of the campaign and that she would like to step aside. 

Earlier, India TV had reported that the seat sharing issue between both the parties had been almost finalised and an announcement was likely anytime.  

The Samajawadi Party has offered the Congress nearly 90 of the total 403 assembly seats, while RLD may get 20 seats in Western UP, where it has considerable influence. 

Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) may also get two parties each in the grand alliance.  

Also the leaders of both the parties feel that the alliance will be beneficial for the ruling party and Congress, which is political wilderness from last 27 years in the state, to halt BJP's march.