Even though the BSP had already announced candidates for 22 seats, the Congress had kept its hopes up about stitching up an alliance in some seats of Madhya Pradesh. Now, Mayawati’s decision that the BSP will go it alone has jolted the Congress. A top Congress leader Thursday said the BSP’s demand was for 50 seats, while the Congress was ready to give around 15 seats.
Senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi told The Indian Express that the BSP’s “unreasonable demand” was the reason for talks breaking down. He said the BSP has been contesting elections in MP and winning around 4 to 5 seats in the last four-five Assembly elections. “When Mayawati is in power in UP, the BSP impact in MP used to be a bit more…now she is weak in UP too,” he said.
The BSP had won 11 seats in 1998 which came down to 2 in 2003. It improved its tally to 7 in 2008 and came down to four in the last Assembly polls in 2013.
“The Dalits of Madhya Pradesh have realised that the BSP will never be in a position to form government in MP….despite that we told the BSP that you take 10-15 seats…you won four seats last time. Take 10-11 more….They were demanding 50 seats. Jin ki haisiyat 3-4 seat ki bi nahin hain, wo pachaas maange tho kaise de de…that is not possible…if they want to fight alone they can…we are not much bothered,” he said.
He said the Congress, keeping in view the “national politics and larger interest”, wanted an understanding and alliance with non-NDA parties. “The effort of the Congress and its leadership was in that direction. If a grand alliance could be stitched together on the basis of some practical give-and-take…even if that did not have much significance in state-level politics….but it would have played a bigger role at the national level…We were trying to stitch something of this sort.”
The BSP was fancying its chances in the Gwalior-Chambal belt this time where the impact of the April 2 bandh given by Dalit organisations against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was felt the most. There were five seats in the region where the BSP finished second in 2013.
With upper castes taking to the streets in protest against the amendment to the SC/ST Act, the BSP was also factoring that it could benefit from the polarisation of votes on the other side of the spectrum. In the 230-member Assembly, 35 seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes.
State Congress chief Kamal Nath said the party wanted an alliance with the BSP to ensure consolidation of the secular votes but it also had a plan B to go alone.
Mayawati Wednesday said her party will contest the polls in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh on its own. Calling the Congress “arrogant” with a “casteist and communal mindset”, she said people had not forgiven the Congress for their “corrupt government”.
BJP Lok Sabha member from Bhopal Alok Sanjar said the alliance between Congress and the BSP would have affected the BJP in some places. He added that the BJP is going into the election on the development plank and would perform well irrespective of the alliance between other parties.