BHOPAL: The Congress’ inability to forge a grand alliance and the dwindling possibility of a potent Third front comprising small but significant political outfits could be a significant lifeline for the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh.While the BJP and Congress are yet to declare their list of candidates for the November 28 polls, smaller parties, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) have already started declaring their candidates.
Till Friday, the BSP had declared 50 candidates and plans to name the remaining 180 candidates by the end of the month. The SP has already declared 17 candidates, while the GGP has so far declared 26 candidates. The Jai Adivasi Yuva Sangathan (JAYS) plans to go alone and contest on 80 seats (including on 47 seats reserved for STs).
The SP leadership is still hopeful of forging a third front with the GGP and the BSP to capitalise the situation in the event of a hung Assembly. But with both other parties preparing to go alone, the possibility of anti-BJP opposition vote splitting could bring cheer to the BJP.
In 2013, the BJP secured 165 seats with around 45% votes, the Congress won 58 seats with little over 36% votes, while the BSP ended up with four seats securing 6.29% votes. The SP and two rival factions of the GGP drew a blank. “Five years later, a strong undercurrent of anti-incumbency against the BJP and a resurgent Congress, despite no clear-cut wave in its favour, can best be termed as neck to neck race. Had the entire Opposition vote been integrated, the BJP would have been in a real trouble,” a senior opposition leader said.
According to state BSP president Pradip Ahirwar, the party will contest all 230 seats alone and is eyeing the ‘seat of the king’ and not ‘the kingmaker’ in the case of a hung Assembly. A united GGP now hopes to better its 2003 performance. “As things stand now, we’ll contest polls alone, which could benefit the BJP and damage the Congress,” said GGP spokesperson Ramesh Bakorik.
The SP is primarily focusing on garnering 4% votes to win more than five seats. “We still hope to cobble a Third front with GGP and BSP. If that happens, the collective vote could well help us win 30-plus seats, where we’ll call the shots in government formation,” an SP leader told The Sunday Standard recently.
A breakdown in deliberations between JAYS and the Congress for an alliance is also causing concern to the Congress about a possible split of anti-BJP tribal votes in Dhar, Barwani, Khargone, Alirajpur, Jhabua, Burhanpur and Khandwa.