BSP jolt to Congress in Chhattisgarh

BSP jolt to Congress in Chhattisgarh

BSP supremo Mayawati and Janata Congress (Chhatisgarh) President Ajit Jogi during a press conference to annouce their alliance for assembly polls in Chhatisgarh, in Lucknow, Thursday. PTI

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Friday announced to ally with Ajit Jogi’s party for Chhattisgarh Assembly election, but kept an option for alliance with the Congress open for Madhya Pradesh.

“If the BSP is offered respectable number of seats, the party will ally with other parties in other states too”, she said while announcing an electoral pact with Jogi’s Chhattisgarh Janata Congress in a press conference in New Delhi.

The BSP has been demanding at least 50 seats for poll pact with the Congress in Madhya Pradesh.

By unilaterally releasing a list of 22 candidates prior to formal talks for a possible alliance, the BSP supremo has tried to exert pressure on the Congress leadership to yield to her demand, according to Congress sources.

However, BSP’s alliance with Ajit Jogi’s party in neighbouring Chhattisgarh state has immensely dimmed prospects of a BSP-Congress alliance in Madhya Pradesh. Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Jogi formed his political party three years ago after breaking away from the Congress. The alliance is set to take on both the Congress and the BJP in Chhattisgarh.

In the event, the Congress is left with two options; either accommodate Jogi -- Mayawati pact in a grand alliance in Chhattisgarh or go in alone in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as well. Either way, it is difficult and politically risky choice for the Congress.

The BJP has about 7% vote bank in Madhya Pradesh. It won on four seats in the 2013 election but caused defeat to the Congress in 29 seats.

Madhya Pradesh has 15% scheduled castes votes and 35 seats reserved for them. The ongoing upper caste protests against the amendments in the SC/ST (prevention of atrocities) Act, 1989 have significantly upset political arithmetic in Madhya Pradesh ahead of the election. Both the Congress and the BJP are engaged in an unenviable exercise of wooing the upper caste while, at the same time, not antagonising the Dalits.

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