The long-awaited, much hyped Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh is "99 per cent off" said a senior congress leader as the Congress is all set to release a list of 24 candidates in Uttar Pradesh in the absence of Mulayam Singh Yadav giving his nod to the alliance.
Officially the Congress would wait for another couple of days before giving a formal burial to the alliance which was set to take on Mayawati but Congress leaders who have been involved in the exercise for the last couple of months say that the Samajwadi Party played dirty with them by announcing 64 seats out of 80 which is not done when two prospective alliance partners are involved in seat sharing talks.
Sources said that Sonia Gandhi had the list of 24 candidates ready with her since February 24 but had waited in the expectation that Mulayam Singh Yadav would "see reason" and agree to the Congress demands to adjust its senior leaders. But in the meeting between Gandhi and Yadav, the Samajwadi Party chief agreed to only 17 seats but these did not include the party's senior leaders who were not members of Parliament.
A senior leader said that if all the known and visible faces of the Congress party like Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Salman Khurshid, Begum Noor Bano, R PN.Singh and others do not contest the elections because "it does not suit Mulayanm Singh yadav that they should contest" then absolutely the wrong signal would go to the party's rank and file and
that was not acceptable to the leadership.
Party leaders said that with the elections having been announced and Holi round the corner, the Congress felt it should no longer wait for Mulayam Singh Yadav to give in to them. Before Holi a second list of is also expected taking the total number of candidate to over 40 if Mulayam does not agree to the Congress contesting the 24 seat. Senior leaders said this is the last opportunity for Mulayam to ensure that the alliance does not break.
Insisting that they did not want to "call it off", a senior leader said the party would not want to take the blame for the alliance not going through. The game plan would be to go on insisting that they were still keen on a tie up and it would not be impossible for Mulayam Singh to retreat on some seats.
Out of the 24 lists in the Congress kitty 15 are those on which Mulayam Singh has not announced any candidates and 9 are those where the Congress has fielded its senior leaders and where the Congress had been insisting on friendly fights with the SP even in an alliance.
Apart from the 8 sitting MPs, the list which released by the Congress includes Jitin Prasada from Dhaurara, Begum Noor Bano from Rampur, Salman Khurshid from Farukhabad, Ratna Singh from Pratapgarh, R P N Singh from Kushinagar, Nirmal Khatri from Faizabad, P L Puniya from Barabanki, Anu Tandon from Unnao, Bhola Pandey from Salempur, Sudha Rai from Ghosi, Harender Malik from Muzzafarnagar, Jagdambika Pal from Dumariaganj, Pravin Singh Aaron from Bareilly, Ram Babar from Fatehpursikri and Beni Prasad Verma from Gonda.