Decoding the Politics Behind the SP-Congress Alliance in Uttar Pradesh

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By Sunil Chaudhary

The recent seat-sharing agreement between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh has been a topic of much speculation and analysis. While the Congress seems to have emerged as the winner in this bargain, with the SP giving up 17 Lok Sabha seats, the reasons behind this decision are worth exploring.

Decoding the Politics Behind the SP-Congress Alliance in Uttar Pradesh

One of the key factors that led to the SP’s decision to give the Congress a larger share of seats was the fear of a split in the crucial Muslim vote. In the 2022 Assembly polls, the SP heavily relied on the support of the Muslim community and managed to secure victory in seats where the community holds significant influence. With the Congress also vying for the Muslim vote by reaching out to them and meeting with clerics, the SP feared that a divided Muslim vote would result in losses for their party. Given that this is a Lok Sabha election, where the stakes are higher, the SP made the strategic decision to avoid splitting the Muslim vote by giving the Congress a larger share of seats.

It is worth noting that the Congress has not fared well in Uttar Pradesh in recent elections. In the 2022 Assembly elections, the Congress won only two out of the 403 seats it contested, with a vote share of 2.33%. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party won just one seat, Raebareli, with a vote share of 6.36%. Even Rahul Gandhi, the party’s prominent leader, lost in Amethi, a Congress stronghold, to the BJP’s Smriti Irani. The Congress’ performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was also underwhelming, with the party winning only two seats. Therefore, many SP leaders feel that the Congress’ demand for 17 seats is “too high” considering its recent electoral performance.

The exit of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) from the INDIA bloc and its subsequent alliance with the BJP-led NDA also played a role in the seat-sharing agreement. The RLD’s stronghold in western Uttar Pradesh affected the distribution of seats, with five of the 17 seats that the Congress will contest falling in this region. It is unlikely that the Congress would have secured these seats if the RLD had remained with the INDIA bloc. The RLD’s departure provided the Congress with additional bargaining power, which they used to their advantage during negotiations.

Another factor that may have influenced the SP’s decision to give the Congress more seats is the lack of allies. In the 2022 Assembly polls, the SP had formed alliances with smaller parties like the Mahan Dal, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), and the RLD, taking into account the importance of caste equations. However, after the SP’s loss in the Assembly elections, these allies drifted away. The SBSP and RLD joined the NDA, while the Mahan Dal severed ties with the SP. With the loss of these allies, the SP may have felt the need to accommodate the Congress in order to strengthen its position.

In conclusion, the seat-sharing agreement between the Congress and the SP in Uttar Pradesh was influenced by various factors. The fear of a split in the Muslim vote, the Congress’ bargaining power due to the RLD’s exit, and the lack of allies for the SP all played a role in the final decision. While the Congress may have secured a larger share of seats, it remains to be seen how this alliance will impact the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state.

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