The outcome of the Uttar Pradesh elections is likely to push the Congress into having a better equation with the triumphant Samajwadi Party (SP) in view of the presidential polls later this year, political analysts say. And that's not the only reason.
The spectacular success of the SP, which clinched 224 seats in the 403-member assembly and supports the Congress-led central government from outside, has made its position comfortable in the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha from 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh scheduled for March 30.
SP's victory substantially increases its leeway in the presidential polls, expected in June before President Pratibha Patil's term ends. The Uttar Pradesh assembly has the largest value of votes among all states, calculated on the basis of population determined by the 1971 census.
The electoral college for the presidential polls includes MPs and members of assemblies from 30 states and union territories.
Though the SP supports the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, relations between the two parties have been strained over the past few months.
But now the Congress will be mindful after bagging a paltry 28 seats in India's most politically crucial state.
The Congress-led government could face increased pressure from the opposition and some of its allies in the forthcoming budget session due to its poor showing in Uttar Pradesh and four other states.
The Congress may also need the SP's support in the election to the offices of chairman and deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The Congress is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha.
The term of Vice President Hamid Ansari, chairman of the upper house, will end in August. That of Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan ends in April.
Political analyst S. Nihal Singh said the Congress could work with the SP in the presidential polls.
Nihal Singh said the Congress would have to get together "with the SP to see if there is a common candidate (for the presidential polls)".
Political analyst Aswini K. Ray said the Congress will try to arrive at some coalition arrangement with the SP.
Ray, a former professor of political science department at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said a better understanding with the SP will help the Congress in dealing with assertive allies like the Trinamool Congress.
"The SP also has national ambitions for which it needs the Congress... An SP and Congress bonhomie is on the cards," Ray told IANS.
He said the Congress will like to push some reforms before the next general elections and support from the SP will be critical.
Nisar-ul-Haq, head of the political science department of Jamia Millia University, said the forthcoming budget session of parliament was expected to be stormy.
However, he said there will not be a major shift of equilibrium as SP supports the UPA government from outside.
"For Mulayam Singh Yadav there is no alternative other than supporting the Congress," he said.