NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the Congress is exploring ways to forge an electoral alliance with Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).Polls to be held in the three BJP-ruled states are being billed as the semi-final to the 2019 general election when the grand old party and its allies hope to take on the saffron brigade.
A look at the 2013 Assembly elections show the vote share of the BSP in MP was 6.29 per cent, in Chhattisgarh 4.27 per cent and in Rajasthan 3.77 per cent—significant to swing the results in favour of the Congress which had 36.38 per cent, 40.29 per cent and 33 per cent in the three states respectively.
“We are open to coordinating with all like-minded parties to defeat the BJP which is a casteist and anti-people party,” AICC in charge of Madhya Pradesh Deepak Babaria told The Sunday Standard.But his counterpart in Chhattisgarh, PL Punia, was cagey over the issue. “There are no such plans for the BSP,” he said.
Congress strategists say they are more focused on MP and Chhattisgarh, where the Congress has been out of power for the past 14 years, than Rajasthan, where the party hopes to stage a comeback on its own after losing it to BJP in 2013.The Chhattisgarh Congress had lost its Dalit face and former chief minister Ajit Jogi who floated a new outfit Janata Congress Chhattisgarh and BSP’s extra votes can help it counter that situation, said senior state leaders. While acknowledging that sewing up a pact in time would be extremely beneficial, party strategists were not able to comment on the exact nature of cooperation from the BSP. An informal understanding may also be arrived at, they said.
“BSP votes vary from seat to seat in MP…so any understanding would have to be tailored accordingly,” said an AICC leader.BSP chief Mayawati appears to be game for a pact in Uttar Pradesh to defeat the BJP but would need to be convinced for MP and Chhattisgarh, said a Congress insider.This is proven by the fact that though the BSP had a poor strike rate in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in the 2013 polls, the party had contested 227 ofthe total 230 seats in MP but won only four; contested all 90 seats in Chhattisgarh but won only one; and contested 195 of total 200 seats in Rajasthan but won only three.