Madhya Pradesh polls: Will BSP & SP agree for a Congress-led Grand Alliance?
A few days after Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath indicated an alliance with “like-minded” parties for the upcoming Assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have begun making forays into the state.
“We’ll go for alliances with like-minded parties in 2018, keeping the broader picture of the Lok Sabha polls in mind. Abhi hamne charcha kisi se shuroo nahi ki hai, abhi mai sabki rai le raha hoon, ki kiske saath kis tarah ka samjhauta kiya jaye. (We’re yet to begin formal discussions with any other party for possible alliance in MP. I’m still consulting everyone about what kind of alliances need to be struck with whom),” MP Congress Committee president Kamal Nath told media persons.
Nath decided to adopt a fresh electoral strategy after the Karnataka Assembly election result that saw the Congress tally falling from 122 in 2013 to 78, even though its vote share increased marginally. He is siad to have recognised the importance of consolidating anti-BJP votes.
“In 2014, BJP got 31% votes and claimed that they had the mandate of the people. We don’t want the Opposition vote to be split this time. We’ll soon start discussions with other like-minded parties on alliance for 2018 (polls) keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” he added.
The Congress is said to be collecting information about the seats where they should go for an alliance with like-minded parties in MP.
Nath’s announcement at an alliance with "like-minded parties" for the Assembly elections in November drew attention from Samajwadi Party.
SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav made a three-day visit to the State. He toured extensively the areas bordering Uttar Pradesh from Bundelkhand to Vindhya region, considered largely to be a Congress territory. He addressed the public in Sidhi and Satna districts of Vindhya region, besides Khajuraho in the Chhattarpur district of Bundelkhand.
His visit surprised everyone, when Akhilesh inducted a nephew and niece of late Arjun Singh at Semaria in Sidhi district.
Sidhi district used to be Arjun Singh’s stronghold. Currently, his son Ajay Singh “Rahul Bhaiya” is a five-time Congress MLA from the district’s Churhat Assembly constituency and leader of Opposition in the State Assembly.
However, during Akhilesh’s visit to Sidhi, Arjun’s nephew Bhunwar KK Singh and his niece Vandana Kumari Singh joined the Samajwadi Party. Bhunwar once a Congress party leader of the district, had migrated to the BJP.
According to Congress sources, the relationship between Bhunwar KK Singh and Ajay Singh has not been particularly cordial.
KK Singh had earlier been with the Congress and then shifted to the BJP.
BSP state president Narmada Prasad Ahirwar has denied any speculation of an alliance.
“We are going to contest all the 230 Assembly seats in the state,” Ahirwar said.
The BSP has never been a deciding factor in MP, though it can play spoiler in a number of seats. Its highest tally was in 1998, when it got 11 seats. It won four seats in the 2013 Assembly polls.
The SP and the Gondwana Gantantra Party didn't win a single seat but ended up helping the BJP grab at least 53 seats, because of a division in Opposition votes.
It remains to be seen if the Congress is able to bring these parties on board.