The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have agreed to an alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, an SP leader said Saturday. A formal announcement on the "gathbandhan" between the two Uttar Pradesh-based parties may take place later this month, SP's national spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary told PTI. He said Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati had given their "in-principle approval" to the alliance after a series of meetings between them.
The two leaders also met Friday, he said. Talks are on with other parties as well, the spokesperson said. "There has been an in-principle approval for the gathbandhan. And there is a possibility that an announcement in this regard will be made this month," Chaudhary said. "A number of meetings between SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati have already been held. Yesterday too, both leaders met in Delhi." "Talks are going on to accommodate some smaller parties in the alliance," he said.
He admitted that the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which has a presence in western UP, is among these parties. When asked about the possible inclusion of Congress in the UP alliance, Chaudhary said, "This will be decided by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati." But he added the alliance will not field candidates in Amethi and Raebareli, leaving the two Lok constituencies for Congress president Rahul Gandhi and United Progress Alliance chief Sonia Gandhi.
Politically crucial Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The opposition parties defeated the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in three Lok Sabha bypolls last year. In the Kairana Lok Sabha by-elections in May last year, the BJP lost to the joint opposition candidate, RLD's Tabassum Hasan. The seat had fallen vacant following the death of the BJP candidate Mriganka Singh's father Hukum Singh. Tabassum Hasan was supported by the Congress, the SP and the BSP.
In March, the BJP lost the Lok Sabha bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur. In the last parliamentary elections in 2014, the BJP won 71 seats, securing 42.63 per cent of the votes. BJP ally Apna Dal bagged two seats. Samajwadi Party won five seats with a vote share of 22.35 per cent. The BSP did not win any seat while securing 19.77 per cent votes. Congress registered wins on two seats in 2014, bagging 7.53 per cent of the votes.
(With inputs from agencies.)