New Delhi: With more number of urban constituencies in its kitty as per the seat-sharing deal between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Akhilesh Yadav-led party is set for a tougher contest with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), given the latter’s strong support base among urban voters.
While the SP will contest 11 urban or semi-urban seats out of its quota of 37 seats, the BSP will field candidates in seven such constituencies from its quota of 38 seats in the alliance, according to the tie-up announced by BSP supremo Mayawati and Yadav in a joint press conference on Thursday.
The Samajwadi Party will also contest some crucial seats such as Lucknow, which has been held by the BJP since 1991, PM Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi and Yogi Adityanath’s home constituency Gorakhpur.
Moreover, Akhilesh’s party will be in direct contest with his uncle and former SP strongman Shivpal Yadav in Firozabad.
According to the deal, BSP gets 10 of the 17 seats reserved for Scheduled Castes — its core vote base — and will contest most of the seats in Western Uttar Pradesh.
The Samajwadi Party, on the other hand, will field candidates on seats such as Etah, Mainpuri, Kannauj and Etawah, considered to be Yadav strongholds.
The two parties have decided not to field candidates in Amethi and Rae Bareilly parliamentary constituencies, currently held by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Jayant Choudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is expected to contest on the remaining three seats.
Thursday’s announcement came over a month after the two parties forged a formal alliance in the state ahead of the upcoming general elections to take on the ruling BJP.
In 2014, the BJP had won 71 of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, which propelled it to an absolute majority at the Centre.
While the SP was able to win five seats namely, Azamgarh, Badaun, Firozabad, Kannauj and Mainpuri, BSP was unable to open its account amid the ‘Modi wave’.
The two parties, however, had a vote share more than that of the BJP in at least 41 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.
Last year, the SP won the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats, previously held by the BJP, in the by-elections with BSP’s support.
The Mulayam Singh Yadav-founded party has also found Kairana in its quota of seats, which was won by RLD during the same bypolls.
It was after this success that speculations for a likely alliance for 2019 polls between the SP and BSP had started doing the rounds, which were eventually put to rest last month.