Just weeks after differences over seat-sharing in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress spilled out into the public, another INDIA bloc partner in Uttar Pradesh has accused the national party of not accommodating allies in Assembly polls. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), an SP ally in UP, has slammed the Congress “for only giving it one seat in Rajasthan and keeping it in the dark till the very last moment”.
The RLD and Congress had contested the 2018 Rajasthan polls as allies, with the RLD contesting two seats – Bharatpur and Malpura. The RLD’s Subhash Garg won Bharatpur by 15,710 votes and was named a minister, but the party lost in Malpura. RLD leaders said they were surprised the Congress only gave the party one seat this time – Bharatpur again, with Garg renominated by the RLD for the November 25 polls.
Rajasthan has 200 Assembly seats, of which the Congress won 100 in 2018.
“We were hopeful of at least five or six seats, but the Congress didn’t clarify its stand on our demands till the very last moment. This was done as a ploy so we don’t go solo or ally with any other party,” said an RLD leader in UP.
Prashant Kanojia, the RLD national campaign in-charge and member of the INDIA bloc working group for media, said the Congress is “not showing a big heart in the state elections, which will have consequences for the alliance in 2024 parliamentary polls”.
“The Congress isn’t accommodating regional parties in the state polls. When they come to us for the seat-sharing formula next year, we will do the same. In UP, they deserve only two-three seats out of the 80, or even less. They should remember they have no footing in UP,” Kanojia said.
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The RLD and SP had contested the 2022 UP Assembly elections as allies. The RLD won eight seats while the SP won 111 in the 403-member Assembly. The Congress had gone solo then, contesting 403 seats and winning just two seats with a vote share of 2.33%, despite party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra leading the campaign.
In Rajasthan, the RLD said it is capable of winning seats in state’s Braj belt, which includes the Bharatpur, Karauli and Dholpur districts. This region has large Jat and Gujjar communities, which are considered vote banks for the Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD. The two communities make up approximately 20% of the state’s population. The Congress has named 34 Jat and 11 Gujjar candidates for the upcoming polls.
On Friday, Rajasthan Congress spokesperson Swarnim Chaturvedi told The Indian Express decisions regarding seat-sharing in Rajasthan were taken after discussions with the RLD. “We have left one seat after holding talks with the RLD leadership. We even made their MLA a minister in the state. I don’t know what the RLD leaders are saying, but there is no issue,” Chaturvedi said.