"We have an alliance with Congress. Whatever we do will be in consultation with our alliance partner," RLD chief and civil aviation minister Ajit Singh told ET in response to queries about his party's strategy in UP in the eventuality of a fractured verdict and the SP emerging as the largest player.
The RLD supremo was inducted into the Union Cabinet soon after his party joined the UPA in December last year. A formal seat-sharing pact between RLD and Congress was stitched up soon after the elections for the Uttar Pradesh assembly was announced, with the Jat-dominated outfit being allowed to contest 45 seats - almost all of it in its stronghold of western UP - as part of the deal worked out at the behest of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
Speculation over RLD's future course of action arose after newspaper reports said that it was likely to bail out SP in case there was a hung assembly, and the latter crossed the 150-seat mark on its own.
RLD sources indicated that even if such a scenario arose, their party was unlikely to jettison Congress to mend fences with SP, with whom they share a very uneasy relationship. RLD has five members in the Lok Sabha, and Singh was handed over the plum portfolio in the Cabinet expansion effected by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December last year.
With exit polls predicting a fourth position finish for Congress in the politically-crucial state of UP, the latter was not expected to alter its ties with any of its alliance partners, as that would have a direct bearing on the UPA government at the Centre.
The two parties had forged a pre-poll alliance in UP in the expectation that the Jats, who form RLD's core constituency, would team up with the numerically-preponderant Muslims to give the combine an edge over their rivals in western UP.
Political observers who toured the region during the campaign period, however, found that a large chunk of the Muslims was backing SP. And in constituencies where RLD had not put any candidate as part of the seat-sharing deal with Congress, or where its candidate was perceived to be weak, the Jats had veered round to the idea of supporting BJP nominees.
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