SP, Congress to jointly contest UP polls

22 January, Lucknow

The Samajwadi Party and the Congress will jointly contest the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections on 298 and 105 seats, respectively, the two parties announced at a joint press conference here on Sunday.

Samajwadi Party state President Naresh Uttam told the media that his party will contest the state elections in alliance with the Congress to “keep the communal forces at bay”.

“We are committed to democratic values… it is not distribution of seats… it’s an alliance formed for the beginning of a new dawn, which will herald politics of development in the state,” Uttam said.

The two parties also intended to make Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav the Chief Minister again, he said.

Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar, who was also present, said the alliance will be led by Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.

The alliance will be “above politics of caste and religion”, he said.

The announcement came after days of haggling over seat-sharing between the two parties. The talks at one point hit a roadblock as the ruling Samajwadi Party was willing to concede only around 90 seats to the Congress.

As the SP refused to budge and the Congress not ready for anything below 120 seats, leaders in both the camps threw up their hands over the prospects of the electoral tie-up.

It was only after the intervention of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who spoke to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on the phone on Saturday, that the alliance was finally sealed.

The seven-phase elections in the state will commence on February 11 and conclude on March 8. The votes will be counted on March 11.

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