After two tense days, the Congress and the ruling Samajwadi Party on Sunday sealed a poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh, a move expected to consolidate the Muslim vote that would have a bearing on at least 100 of the 403 assembly seats.
The Samajwadi Party will contest 298 seats and the Congress the remaining 105. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who emerged as the undisputed leader of the SP after months of a bruising family battle, would lead the alliance into the polls.
“A pre-election tie-up is a historical decision and will herald a new beginning for the development of Uttar Pradesh. The Congress and the SP will contest all the 403 together to defeat the communal forces,” UP Congress chief Raj Babbar and SP state chief Naresh Uttam said at a press conference in Lucknow.
Voting for the 403-member assembly will be held over seven phases, beginning February 11.
The SP counts Yadavs and Muslims as its vote base. SP patriarch and three-time chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav won several poll battles on what came to be known as the M-Y formula.
Muslims account for 19% of Uttar Pradesh’s population and their voting behaviour will define the outcome in around 100 constituencies.
Talks between the two sides hit a rough patch on Friday when the SP announced a list of candidates of 208 seats, including those held by the Congress.
The Congress wanted at least 120 seats. The SP offered 115 to be shared with other parties, which left the Congress with only 80 seats, sources said.
The SP list will now be revised.
A final decision on Gandhi family boroughs of Rae Bareli and Amethi, which have five assembly seats each, was yet to be taken.
The SP in the evening announced candidates for two seats in Rae Bareli and three in Amethi in a list of 79 names. “The SP has seven sitting MLAs while the Congress has two. We understand the Congress will get at least five seats,” sources said.