After failing to sew up a pre-poll alliance with the BSP in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is now holding talks with Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS), a fledgling tribal political outfit, to take on the ruling BJP in the next month's Assembly polls.
JAYS convenor, Dr Hiralal Alawa, told PTI that his outfit has sought 40 seats from the Congress as part of the pre-poll alliance in the state, which has 230 assembly constituencies.
"The Congress is in talks with us for a pre-poll alliance. Our focus is 28 seats in Malwa-Nimar region of western MP that has 66 assembly constituencies. Of these 28 seats, 22 are reserved for tribals," he said.
Out of these 22 seats, the Congress currently has MLAs in five assembly constituencies, he added.
Dr Alawa, who is a former assistant professor of AIIMS Delhi, says the JAYS eyes to field candidates in Alirajpur, Ratlam, Jhabua, Dhar, Khargone, Burhanpur, Khandwa, Dewas and Barwani districts as these places have sizeable tribal population.
"We have already showed our strength by holding Kisan Panchayat in Kukshi of Dhar district on October 2. Over one lakh tribal youths took part in it," he claimed.
When contacted, a state Congress leader confirmed that the party was in talks with JAYS for a pre-poll alliance.
The opposition party, which has been out of power in MP since the last 15 years, had earlier tried to stitch an alliance with the BSP, although it failed to work out.
MP Congress chief Kamal Nath had even met BSP supremo Mayawati over the pre-poll alliance in July in New Delhi.
However, earlier this month, Mayawati announced that her party will not forge an alliance with the Congress "at any cost" for the upcoming Assembly polls in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Blaming the Congress for what she called its "arrogance" and "stubborn attitude", the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister had also said that although Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi appeared in favour of an alliance, there were other "senior leaders" who worked to foil any possibility of an understanding.
Madhya Pradesh is going to polls on November 28.