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Cong’s 1st UP list out; Sonia, Rahul among 24 candidates announced
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 4
The seat-sharing talks between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party reached a near-breaking point on Wednesday after the Congress declared its first list of 24 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh. The list includes constituencies in which the SP has already announced its candidates.

Announcing the list of candidates, party general secretary Digvijay Singh thanked the SP for the cooperation it had extended to the UPA government during the crucial trust vote on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal. He also said the intention of the Congress was not to mount pressure on the SP and the option of alliance between the two parties was still open.

The list of candidates includes sitting Congress MPs and two SP rebels-Raj Babbar from Fatehpur Sikri and Beni Prasad Verma from Gonda.

The list includes Congress president Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli), party general secretary Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), Sri Prakash Jaiswal (Kanpur), Mahavir Prasad (Bansgaon), Rajesh Mishra (Varanasi), Surendra Prakash Goel (Ghaziabad), Bijender Singh (Aligarh), Manvendra Singh (Mathura), Jitin Prasad (Dhaurara), Noor Bano (Rampur), Salman Khursheed (Farrukhabad), Ratna Singh (Pratapgarh), RPN Singh (Kushi Nagar), Nirmal Khatri (Faizabad), PL Puniya (Barabanki), Annu Tandon (Unnao), Bhola Pandey (Salempur), Sudha Rai (Ghosi), Hairendra Malik (Muzaffarnagar), Jagdambika Pal (Dumariaganj), Praveen Aron (Bareilly), Raj Babbar (Fatehpur Sikari), Devi Dayal (Bulandshahr) and Beni Prasad Verma (Gonda)

Political observers say with this announcement the possibility of SP-Congress coming together had receded. The seat sharing talks between the Congress and the SP have been at the rock bottom for quite some time in the absence of any consensus between the two allies.

Singh said the SP also did not consult the Congress when it had finalised its own list. “None of our other allies, whether it is the RJD or the NCP, have announced their candidates,” he said. Party leaders say the SP had left the Congress with very few choices. “The SP was not willing to give seats to senior leaders. We were left with no other option but to announce our list otherwise it would have sent a wrong signal to the cadres,” they explain.

The SP, which announced candidates for 64 of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, had offered 15 seats to the Congress in the state. The Congress, however, stood resolute by its decision that it would fight on at least 25 seats. Meanwhile, the Congress has a Plan B ready in case the Plan A of an agreement with the SP fails at the end of the day. Sources said the party would go alone and may contest on 50 to 55 seats.

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