After bailing out the Congress in the Rajya Sabha elections, rebel JD(U) MLA Chhotu Vasava said he was confident of a larger role in the alliance with the national party for the upcoming Assembly elections and pitched for a “mahagathbandhan’’ (grand-alliance) to challenge BJP, which is in power in Gujarat for over 20 years.
“I have told the Congress to also have alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) this time because candidates of these parties were polled 5,000-10,000 votes in some of the constituencies in Surat and other places in south Gujarat in the last Assembly elections as the population of north Indian migrants there is substantial,” Vasava, Gujarat JD(U) president, told The Indian Express.
“In the 2007 and the 2012 Assembly elections, I had suggested that the Congress and the JD(U) field joint candidates on tribal dominated seats and also go for alliance with the BSP to prevent a split of votes with a view to defeating the BJP. But, my suggestion was turned down by the Congress,” said Vasava, who represents the tribal constituency of Jhagadia in Bharuch district, also home to senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel.
Vasava belongs to the Sharad Yadav-faction of the JD(U) and had objected to party president Nitish Kumar’s decision to join hands with the BJP in Bihar after breaking away from the mahagathbandhan there. He had voted for Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections on August 8 despite his party’s diktat to support BJP candidates. His vote turned out to be crucial in Patel’s victory.
He said: “I don’t want to restrict alliance to BSP and SP. I want alliance with OBCs and minorities also. Without their support, defeating BJP is not possible.” In the drawing room of his house one cannot help but notice a large bust of B R Ambedkar.
Asked if the Congress would listen to him this time, he replied in the affirmative. “After I voted for Ahmedbhai in the Rajya Sabha elections, the Congress has now realised who is its real friend and I am sure they would listen to me,” he said. He said Sharad Yadav would talk to Congress leaders about forming a mega alliance. Read | Both Congress, BJP evil, but BJP a bigger evil, says Chhotu Vasava. Click here
“I want only three to four seats for JD(U) in Bharuch and Narmada districts,” said Vasava. “I will, in return, campaign for the alliance in the entire tribal belt stretching from Umargam in Valsad district to Ambaji in Banaskantha, where the tribal vote is the deciding factor impacting about 50 constituencies, including 27 reserved for tribals.’’
Out of the 27 ST reserved seats, the Congress had won 17 in 2012. The mega alliance is also being advocated by smaller parties apart from the Congress. State Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki said he was firm on forming an alliance with the JD(U), and would not go along with NCP this time. “We will certainly have and alliance with the JD(U). We have already decided it,’’ Solanki said.
Former Union minister Tushar Chaudhary, a prominent tribal leader and son of former CM Amarsinh Chaudhary, backed the idea of having alliance with smaller parties. Gujarat SP leader Surendra Yadav said his party was in talks with the Congress for a “mahaganthbandhan’’ ahead of the polls.