Lucknow, Jan 22: The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance have strained soon after its inception and if sources are to be believed, it might be attitude of the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi towards Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav that might have caused this strain. Reports claim that Yadav is perhaps miffed at the Gandhi’s at the fact that soon after the announcement of the alliance ahead of the upcoming polls, the Gandhi’s are trying to distance themselves from Yadav and at the same time holding on to their demands for seat, and this they are doing through their representatives who are “nobody in the Congress system”
This whole episode shows how the Gandhi’s misread the status of Akhilesh Yadav and the impact of it on the relationship. As per an Indian Express report, the demand of seat is not what is primary issue in the strained relationship of the much anticipated SP-Congress alliance. Instead it is Congress’s “delhiwala attitude” that has caused the riff.
Congress’s ‘Delhiwala’ attitude and Akhilesh’s ‘Agrawali’ dream
According to the same news report, Akhilesh have been irritated by the fact that Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi were expected to send party-veterans or at least members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to talk about sharing of seats but instead the Congress sent some lightweights to negotiate. As per sources quoted in the report, a senior SP leader said, ” In the UP political map, Akhilesh is the heavyweight. For Congress not to understand this and to acknowledge it shows their arrogance and lack of seriousness.”
Reportedly, on Friday or Saturday at around 1 am, Dimpy Yadav received a call from Priyanka Gandhi, who wished to speak to Akhilesh. Akhilesh reportedly spoke to Priyanka Gandhi and said he would indeed “engage” with her designated representative. As per the report, post this, Akhilesh was expecting some Congress big shot but instead Congress sent Prashant Kishore. Reportedly Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi sent Prashant Kishore and former IAS officer Dheeraj Srivastava, whom the SP leadership termed as “nobody in the Congress system”.
The Congress after this point seems have been playing hard to get and it might cost the relationship which both the parties dreamt of. The IE report also claims that in fact, Akhilesh Yadav was expecting Rahul Gandhi to arrive either at Agra or Lucknow and seal the deal and make an official announcement at a joint press conference. But it seems the UP CM got stood up by the Young Gandhi as nothing of that sort happened and this left Akhilesh fumed.
Apart from the ego and power play and hardball that the SP and the Congress have been playing, the relationship is also in a deadlock over the issue of seats and quite clearly the negotiation has not been as smooth as both the parties might have expected. The Congress begun with a list of 140 seats, which Akhilesh initially scaled down to 72. But reportedly in the final talks of the parties, Akhilesh gave his final offer of 91 seats, which included 25 SP candidates contesting on Congress’s symbol. Soon he raised that number to 99 but the Congress quite clearly kept on not accepting the offer obstinately.
A senior SP leader was quoted by IE saying the Congress is plagued by too many insecurities and while it wants to reap the SP’s harvest, Rahul wants to distance himself from Akhilesh, perhaps in a bid to show himself as a strong entity of popularity by himself.
Akhilesh is expected to release the SP’s manifesto at a press conference at 11 am today and the Congress, particularly Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, after taking advice from the ‘old guard’ has agreed to try and strike deal with SP before Akhilesh’s SP manifesto is announced.