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Akhilesh Yadav (File photo)

LUCKNOW: To be or not to be, this is the dilemma that Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav faces when it comes to finalising an amicable seat-sharing formula with smaller parties ahead of the state assembly polls.
The SP chief has been claiming that the party would win 400 seats. However, the question as to how many seats he can spare and still maintain the confidence of winning 400 seats has apparently put Akhilesh in a Catch-22 situation.
As of now, he has announced an alliance with the Bhagidari Morcha, led by the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) of former cabinet minister Om Prakash Rajbhar.
According to SP insiders, talks are also in the final stage with Jayant Chaudhary-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L).
Other members of Bhagidari Morcha include Rashtriya Uday Party (led by Baburam Pal), Prem Chand Prajapati’s Bhaagidari Party (P), Anil Singh Chauhan’s Rashtra Unnati Party, Satish Chandra Banjara’s Banjara Mahasabha, Khangaar Mahasabha of Gulab Singh Khangaar, Sunil Arkvanshi’s Arkvanshi Mahasangh, Heera Paswan-led Dalit Mahasangh, Prem Chandra Kashyap’s Kashyap Sena Mahasangh and Upekshit Samaj Party, led by Rajkumar Bari.
Talking to TOI, a SBSP leader said his party was seeking 22 seats while the Morcha was demanding 35 seats. He said the seat-sharing formula was likely to be finalised by the end of December.
However, SBSP national general secretary and son of former OP Rajbhar, Arun Rajbhar, said seat-sharing formula was not an issue. “Even if the Morcha doesn’t get any seat, it would stand with the Samajwadi Party as we all aim to defeat the BJP in the coming elections. SP’s alliance partners will work according to the common minimum programme,” he said.
“Come what may, SBSP will not forge an alliance with BJP this time. Not even if they offer us 100 seats,” he said. SBSP got eight seats in an alliance with the BJP in 2017 assembly elections and won four.
Rashtriya Lok Dal leaders, on condition of anonymity, said the alliance with the SP was on but for seat-sharing formula. According to them, RLD has put forth the demand for 50 seats while SP is ready to give 35 as of now. RLD national secretary Anil Dubey said, “Our party already has an ideological alliance with the SP. We are in the final stages of political alliance. We have the common goal to defeat the BJP.”
“Seat-sharing is not an issue as talks with the SP are in the final stage and RLD is expecting an announcement of alliance with the SP soon,” Dubey said. So far as SP’s ties with Shivpal Yadav’s party is concerned, a PSP-L leader said it was not a matter of two parties but of “meeting of two hearts”.
“If the uncle-nephew duo (Shivpal and Akhilesh) agree to join hands, seat-sharing would not be an issue. For now, we have sought 50 seats from the Samajwadi Party,” he said. “Put together, the total seats demanded by the smaller parties comes to 135. At a time when Akhilesh has hit the streets giving a call for change in the 2022 assembly seats, sparing such a huge number of seats could be a Herculean task,” a SP leader said However, senior SP leader Rajendra Chaudhary said there was no dilemma as in-principle alliance with RLD was on. “Talks are on and an alliance would be announced shortly,” he said.
About alliance with PSP-L, Chaudhary said, “The intricacies are not known to me but Akhilesh ji has already said that PSP-L would be adjusted in a respectful manner.”

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