NEW DELHI: As the Opposition gears up to take on the BJP state-by-state by forming regional alliances, the Bahujan Samaj Party-Congress alliance in Madhya Pradesh (MP) seems to have hit a roadblock.
The bone of contention is the Gwalior-Chambal region, which is not only MP’s Congress election campaign committee chairperson Jyotiraditya Scindia’s bastion but also a BSP stronghold.
The BSP is seeking a major chunk of seats in Chambal while Scindia has reservations over this demand. Both sides seem unwilling to budge, but hectic negotiations are on, with the top BSP, Congress leadership being privy to the developments.
Though both Scindia and PCC chief Kamal Nath favour a pact with the BSP, local leaders fear losing out on Congress tickets after working hard in their areas.
Congress sources said no decision would be taken in haste and the talks were moving in the right direction. Interestingly, the SP too wants a few seats in MP and their demand is also being considered by the Congress.
However, State BSP chief Narmada Prasad Ahirwar recently upped the ante by declaring that the party would go it alone as it has a larger voter base in Gwalior-Chambal, Bundelkhand and Vindhya.
In 2013, the BSP contested all seats and won four with a vote share of 6.29 per cent. The Gwalior-Chambal region comprises Gwalior, Morena, Bhind, Sheopur, Shivpuri, Guna, Ashok Nagar and Datia districts and sends 34 out of 230 MLAs to the Assembly.
The Dalit population in MP is over 15 per cent and they dominate 60 Assembly seats in the Chambal and Bundelkhand region, in which their population is more than the state’s average.
The BSP is demanding 50-55 seats while the Congress is ready to give just 10-12 seats. According to BSP, the Congress should be ready to give more seats as the 2013 tally shows that the Mayawati-led party was on second position in some seats.
“It should be give and take for the Congress. They must give more seats to the BSP in the Assembly elections and in return get support on more seats in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019,” said a BSP source in MP.
The BSP-Congress combine will have an upper hand in the region as the BJP is weakest there. In fact, three out of four Assembly bypolls lost by the BJP over the last 10 months have been in the Gwalior-Chambal belt. Of the nine bypolls the party has lost to the Congress since 2004, five were from here.
The BJP’s success rate in 2013 here was just above 56 per cent, lower than its comparative success rates in two other weak regions — Mahakoshal (59 per cent) and Vindhya region (58 per cent).