Uncertainty clouded prospect of an alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Congress in UP after the state's ruling party on Friday announced a list of candidates for 210 seats, including nine currently held by Congress, which called the action "unfortunate".
The announcement of the list of SP nominees followed Tuesday's statements by UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and senior Congress leader in-charge of the state Ghulam Nabi Azad indicating a pre-poll tie-up was a foregone conclusion.
As the SP released the list of candidates, who included Shivpal Yadav, the estranged uncle of Akhilesh, and fielded nominees for seats represented by the Congress in the assembly, its vice president Kiramoy Nanda said the party was yet to get a "positive response" from Congress on the alliance issue.
He said SP was prepared for an alliance with Congress, for which it could spare 85 of the state's 403 seats and not more. Nanda made it clear that though his party favoured a pre-poll pact with Congress, it had to be on "our own terms".
Samajwadi Party, which is not on the same page with Congress on the issue of inclusion of RLD, said if that party wanted to defeat BJP, it should accept SP's formula of seat-sharing.
"Under this formula, SP would give those seats to Congress on which its candidate were in first place or seats where SP was at third, fourth or fifth spots," SP National Vice President Kironmay Nanda told reporters here after SP released its list of 191 candidates.
"Thus, Congress will get 54 seats. But if it (Congress) talks seriously, we can also give them 25-30 additional seats.
The maximum seats we can give to them will be 85," he said.
Noting that the main objective of SP was to defeat BJP in the Assembly polls, he said, "For this, we are trying for alliance with Congress but till now we have not got any positive response from them."
When it was pointed out that in today's list SP has fielded candidates on various seats on which Congress candidates had won 2012 polls, Nanda said, "If alliance takes place, SP will withdraw its candidates from those seats."
Sources said RLD wanted more seats than what SP was ready to part with.
Congress reportedly offered some 20 seats to RLD chief Ajit Singh's son Jayant Choudhary, who is in touch with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
According to insiders, Singh has said he will not accept less than 30 seats and was now contemplating going with some other parties like JD(U).
To a query on tie-up with RLD, Nanda said, "There was no talk with RLD on alliance."
When asked whether it has become difficult to forge alliance with Congress now, he said, "It will be too early to say so. We still want an alliance with Congress but on our own conditions. Poll process has already started and SP cannot wait for a long time."
In Delhi, senior Congress spokesman Ajay Maken termed as "unfortunate" the SP's decision to declare its candidates for seats held by Congress but parried questions about whether an alliance between the two parties would materialise.
Maken said,"This alliance was concluded earlier with none other than SP National President Akhilesh Yadav and leaders of the Congress and now again we are getting in touch with Akhilesh Yadav because it was with him that the alliance earlier was concluded.
"It is unfortunate…technical details which were agreed upon and concluded upon between Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leaders should be honoured."
The SP has been ruling out inclusion of Ajit Singh's RLD in the alliance despite his party having some influence in Western Uttar Pradesh. Congress, however, wanted its inclusion and was planning to give some seats from its quota to RLD.