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Did Cong bowing to M.P. unit pressure push BSP out?

A. M. Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on October 04, 2018

In happier times A file photo of BSP chief Mayawati with Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi   -  PTI

The tiff could affect opposition alliance talks in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana

The Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) decision to stop negotiations with the Congress for an electoral tie-up in the upcoming Assembly elections has sent shockwaves through the Opposition. It is seen as a failure of the Congress’ high command as it buckled under pressure from the Madhya Pradesh unit opposed to the alliance.

“Feudal attitude”

Congress insiders, however, say that it was impossible to accommodate the demands of the BSP. But the BSP says the “feudal attitude” of certain leaders from Madhya Pradesh is the real reason for backing out from the proposal of a grand alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Significantly, the stand-off is likely to impact opposition parties’ negotiations in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana too.

There are indications that the BSP supremo Mayawati’s outburst was not sudden.

The BSP’s grouse is against Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the three senior leaders from Madhya Pradesh. “She has been talking to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. She has conveyed her concerns about the roadblocks created by certain Congress leaders to the alliance,” a senior BSP leader told BusinessLine.

The BSP apparently wanted to seal the alliance as early as possible.

“It’s just about the number of seats. How many seats can they (the Congress) provide to us is the only question. For that a party like BSP should not be dragged to multilevel negotiations,” the leader added.

Seat allocation

What has irked Mayawati is apparently the indecision of the Congress high command. She expected that the party’s top leadership to discuss seat-sharing with her but it did not happen. Insiders in both the parties say that though the process of discussions between Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi started in July, a final decision could not be taken as the Madhya Pradesh unit was against the alliance. In the Congress, however, there are two views. Leaders of the State unit say Mayawati demanded 50 seats, while the party has just four seats in the present Assembly.

The State unit is not ready to accede more than 20 seats to the BSP.

Hope for reconciliation

In Delhi, some leaders are hopeful that the differences will be ironed out. “It’s too early to discuss seat allocation. Our policy is that the State unit should come up with the proposal about alliances and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) will take a final call on it,” said a senior leader, hoping that differences with the BSP can be sorted out ahead of the elections.

The BSP won 6.29 per cent votes (21,28,333 votes) in the last election after contesting 227 seats in the 230-member Assembly. The BJP won 165 seats and the Congress got 58. The difference between the voting percentage of the BJP and the Congress was more than 8 per cent. The difference between the votes of both the big parties was more than 28 lakh. Had they contested as an alliance , they could have won about 45 more seats.

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Published on October 04, 2018
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