The decision of the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati not to forge an alliance with Congress in the upcoming assembly polls in three northern states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan has derailed the yet to form grand alliance of the opposition parties but, would not have impact on the Congress party’s poll prospects as the party is direct contest with ruling BJP.
The senior Congress leaders seem not bothered much about Mayawati’s decision as her has very little influence in three states that are scheduled to go to polls in November and December this year.
“The decision of BSP chief Mayawati not to have an alliance with Congress in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will not impact Congress poll prospects.
However, the BSP might come on board ahead of 2019 general elections,” said Rahul Gandhi, the Congress President while speaking at a function.
The Congress said talks with Mayawati for having a pre-poll alliance broke down as she wanted a large share in the distribution of seats in the forthcoming assembly elections.
The BSP head wanted seats in those areas where her party has national presence and Congress had won those seats many times. Similar situation came up during the course of negotiations for seat sharing in Rajasthan.
In Chhattisgarh, however, BSP forged alliance with a regional party headed by former chief minister Ajit Jogi even before Congress could approach her for an alliance.
“BSP’s demand of its share of seats during alliance talks was beyond comprehension. Neither BSP nor Congress would have won those seats. The gainer would have been BJP,” explained Kamal Nth, the President of the Congress party in Madhya Pradesh.
In MP the BSP put forward a demand to contest at least 50 seats, which Congress thought was too high to meet. Another condition that Mayawti placed before the Congress party’s interlocutors was that she would like to have similar alliance in other poll-bound states also wanted to have alliance with BSP in MP. Moreover, she wanted major share in other two states also.
When BSP supremo realized that talks would not yield any favourable results, she changed track and started putting blame on former Congress chief minister Digvijay Singh holding him responsible for the derailment of seat-sharing negotiations.
While announcing that her party would go alone in MP and Rajasthan Mayawati had said that even though the Congress President and his mother Sonia Gandhi appeared to be in favour of an alliance, there were other senior leaders who worked to foil any possibility of an understanding. “The Congress had not changed and like the BJP betrayed the BSP,” the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said.
“The groundswell of support for Congress in MP is phenomenal,” said Nath. The idea behind Mayawati’s hard bargaining during seat distribution parleys was that in its zeal to unseat Narendra Modi in the 2019 general elections, Congress might also make compromise in the ensuing assembly elections as it did in Karnataka.
However, Congress opted to dump her knowing well that it is a direct contest with the BJP that has been ruling the states of MP and Chhattisgarh for last three consecutive terms and Rajasthan for one term. Besides, in all three states there is no effective third party presence. Like BSP in MP, the regional outfit floated by Jogi in Chhattisgarh after he was thrown out of Congress has a limited impact among tribal people for Jogi himself being a tribal.
The major issue that is being debated currently in the political circle is whether or not Mayawati’s decision to dump Congress in the next-month bound assembly elections will have any impact on the grand alliance of the opposition party, a move that India’s grand old Congress party has initiated for the next year Lok Sabha poll. Many of the Congress leaders are of the view that Mayawati’s present decision would not have any impact on the opposition alliance at the national level because political situation at the state level are quite different than the national level.
Can Mayawati afford not to become an part of a national alliance of all non NDA parties that is being conceived ahead of next year general elections? If Mayawati decides not to enter into the opposition alliance in politically important state of Uttar Pradesh, it would clearly benefit the BJP as the state sends highest number of 80 seats in the lower house of Indian Parliament. Under current political circumstances the realignment of opposition forces is need of the hour to unseat the Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance government.
It is not that in the present scenario Mayawati is in a position to continue to go alone in the Lok Sabha polls also, if she decides to act in a manner she is doing in the upcoming assembly elections, it would further erode her party base in Uttar Pradesh as it happened in previous Lok Sabha polls when her followers voted for BJP in the Parliamentary elections. Consequently, the BSP could not get a single seat despite having a pocket borough of vote share in the state.
In order to remain in the political reckoning at the state and national level it is imperative on her part to forge a pre-poll alliance with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. A combination of BSP and SP in Uttar Pradesh has a huge potential of bringing down the BJP’s tally from present 70 seats to double digit even if Congress is kept out of this alliance of two major political formations in UP.
This alliance will also have positive impact on other states in northern parts of the country particularly in Bihar where entire opposition is pitted against a combine of BJP and ruling Janata Dal (United).
“The alliance in the state and the alliance at the centre are different… Mayawatiji has indicated that. We were pretty flexible in the states; in fact I was more flexible than some of our state leaders. We were in the midst of conversation but I guess they decided to go their own way. I think in national elections parties will come together particularly in Uttar Pradesh,”Rahul Gandhi, the scion of Gandhi family told a select gathering of intellectuals in the national capital.
The coming together of opposition parties ahead of Parliamentary elections has disturbed the current ruling dispensation because the ruling class is well aware of the fact that the formation of a grand opposition alliance can easily upset its applecart. In the last Lok Sabha, the ruling NDA had got only 31 percent of total vote share in the country whereas remaining 69 percent was divided among the opposition parties.
What Congress is doing is working overtime to unite the opposition to prevent any division of vote share.>