New Delhi: Amid the talks of a possible Mahagathbandhan for 2019, Mayawati threw a spanner in the works on Sunday by demanding a “respectable” share of the pie. The Bahujan Samaj Party chief said she was not opposed to joining a grand opposition alliance but added the caveat that the BSP must receive a “respectable” number of seats in the Lok Sabha elections. However, sources in the Samajwadi Party suggests that Akhilesh Yadav is not concerned with Mayawati’s statement because he has already made up his mind to offer a larger share of seats to the BSP.
The source added that the Congress, which has expressed an interest in joining the grand alliance after it stood a distant third in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls, has asked for at least 9 seats. For the Congress, the Amethi and Rae Bareli seats, which are represented by Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi respectively, are non-negotiable. In addition to these, the Congress has expressed interest in contesting from Kushinagar and Saharanpur. But the allocation depends on the Rahul Gandhi-led party’s performance in the upcoming Assembly elections in five states.
“Akhilesh Yadav has decided that no matter what, he will make sure that this opposition alliance takes shape. There is a common saying – jiski UP uska desh. So this is where we can stop the Modi juggernaut. The formula was decided earlier and now, I can assure you that seat sharing will not be an issue. We are going to go to great lengths to accommodate behenji’s requests,” and SP leader said.
The fourth partner in the equation is the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which is likely to get three seats. A source close to RLD chief Ajit Singh confirmed the potential seat sharing formula and added, “Initially, when neither Congress nor RLD were in the picture, Mayawati had suggested that both SP and BSP contest 40 seats each. But after the Kairana bypoll, she has ceded some space for the Congress but has made it clear that any seats for RLD or other smaller parties like the NISHAD Party will come from the SP’s kitty.”
The seats being reserved for the RLD are likely to be Muzaffarnagar and Baghpat along with Kairana, which the RLD wrested from the BJP in the recent bypolls. The RLD reportedly wants to contest the Mathura seat as well, but consensus has not yet been built on that.
On Sunday, Mayawati said that she is not averse to joining a grand alliance against the BJP, but will agree only if her party is allocated a respectable share of seats in states where it is currently a minor player. “We are not against having an alliance in the upcoming polls. But it will happen only if we are given a respectable number of seats. Otherwise, we will go alone,” she said.
The BSP is also said to be in talks with the Congress for an alliance in the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. In all the three states, it has a pocket of influence that has fetched the party only a few seats in the last two decades. An alliance with the Congress here could also lay the foundation for a larger understanding between the two parties and other non-BJP outfits in the Hindi heartland, including politically crucial UP and Bihar.