Alliance talks by the Congress with parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) fell through in Madhya Pradesh. Just when it seemed the party would go solo in the Assembly elections, it sprang a surprise on the eve of the last day of filing nominations by leaving one seat vacant for Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) of former Union minister and former NDA convenor Sharad Yadav.
The Congress chose to keep Jatara (SC) seat in Tikamgarh district — which the party won in 2013 — open for its alliance partner, keeping a window open for a possible alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The talks were finalised between Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sharad Yadav.
Dr Vikram Chaudhary, the alliance candidate, filed his nomination on Friday, the last day of filing nominations. Chaudhary was accompanied by Congress workers but not Congress MLA from Jatara Dinesh Kumar Ahirwar.
Ahirwar filed his nomination as an independent. He won Jatara in 2013, defeating former minister Harishankar Khatik by a slender margin of 233 votes. This time, however, the Congress did not want to trust Ahirwar because he was hobnobbing with the BJP for a ticket.
Admitting that he was also in touch with the BJP, Ahirwar said that neither national party had kept its word, forcing him to contest as an independent.
He said he had defeated a former BJP minister even during the Narendra Modi wave in 2013.
Congress leader Pankaj Chaturvedi said the tie-up with LJD was an attempt to stitch a national alliance beginning from MP. “Sharad Yadav is an important national player with influence in many states. He stood with the Congress while highlighting the plight of farmers in Mandsaur,” he said.
Yadav had participated in the Congress protests at Mandsaur with Rahul.
“It is a symbolic alliance stitched as part of a national strategy,” Govind Yadav, convener of Lok Kranti Abhiyan and aide of Yadav, told The Indian Express.
He said there was an effort to involve Left parties in the alliance, but it did not work out for the seat. Alliance talks with the BSP and GGP fell through because both the parties had sought a bigger share of seats. The Congress co-opted Hiralal Alawa by fielding him as its official nominee from Manawar rather than entering in alliance with the Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS), a fledging tribal outfit of which he was the national convener.