Lucknow: Putting an end to speculation about a ‘maha-gathbandhan’ in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav today ruled out forming alliance with any party and said “there may be only merger”.
“There will be no alliance for the UP Assembly polls. There may be only merger,” he told a hurriedly called press conference amid talks among leaders of ‘Janata Parivar’ parties about a possible tie-up.
The ruling party chief’s remarks assume significance against the backdrop of marathon meetings Congress’ poll strategist Prashant Kishor had with him in Delhi and Lucknow.
Kishore had held talks with the SP patriarch spread over several sessions and had also met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, fuelling speculation about an alliance.
Akhilesh, who did not appear too keen on cobbling together a coalition, had yesterday said that forming a coalition was not that easy.
The fact that SP wanted to go it alone was reflected in the chief minister’s remark that the ruling party can win the election on its own.
But, as the alliance picture was not clear, he had also said that in case of pre-poll tie-up, they could garner 300 seats. Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats.
The frequent meetings Kishor had with the SP leadership and the interactions between Mulayam and Ajit Singh of Rashtriya Lok Dal had triggered speculation that a coalition could be on the cards.
Leaders of the erstwhile Janata Parivar who had attended the gala SP silver jubilee bash here too had underlined the need to halt BJP in its tracks by joining hands.
Akhilesh had, however, said the decision on cobbling together a coalition was not that easy.
“Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) is an experienced leader. He will take the right decision…,” he had said, parrying a direct reply on whether a ‘maha-gathbandhan’ was on the anvil.
Mulayam’s announcement at the press conference was abrupt as he had held deliberations with leaders of Janata Parivar parties with his younger brother and his party’s UP unit chief Shivpal Yadav, a strong votary of the alliance, in tow.
In a show of solidarity, Janata Parivar leaders including JD(S) chief and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda had come together for the SP’s silver jubilee celebrations here on November 5 after Shivpal gave a call for unity among erstwhile Janata Parivar leaders.
Party insiders said that Mulayam decided to go solo as there was no unanimity on the number of seats to be shared.
The chief minister had clearly said that before an alliance was struck, it was necessary to weigh who stood to gain and who were to lose.
Reports had said that Congress wanted some 100-125 seats, but Akhilesh was not too enthusiastic and was prepared to give just those seats held by that party. Congress has 29 MLAs in the present House.
It was not clear as to how many seats Ajit Singh was jockeying for. His RLD has influence in western UP.
As far as JD(U) is concerned, it has little traction in the state, but is making concerted efforts under its president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to carve a niche for itself.
The Samajwadi Party, which was initially part of Bihar’s grand alliance, had walked out of it after it was offered only a handful of seats to contest the Assembly election there.
The grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress had, however, scripted a glorious electoral victory, defeating the BJP-led NDA.