Even as the Congress claims to be in talks with the BSP and other smaller parties on seat-sharing for the upcoming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, the BSP has started preparations to contest all 230 seats in the state in the absence of any decisive pre-election alliance as yet, it is learnt. The BSP recently elevated the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit president, Ram Achal Rajbhar, as national general secretary and gave him the charge of MP.
The party has divided MP in four zonal units from organisational structure — Bhopal, Indore, Rewa and Gwalior — and put senior state leaders, who come from different castes, in charge of each. It has also decided to expand its booth-level committees — from six or seven members at present to at least 23 members in each booth committee so that workers from more caste and categories can be given representation in party organisation, according to leaders.
A senior BSP leader who attended the first review meeting on Assembly polls, held earlier this month in Bhopal, said, “Nothing is final on the alliance so far, and no directive has come from (party chief) Mayawati-ji yet. The party is making preparations for all 230 seats, and be ready to contest even if an alliance does not materialise. Our preparations are moving forward in view of Lok Sabha elections as well.”
On Sunday, BSP state president Narmada Prasad Ahirwar told PTI in Bhopal that the party is not in discussions with the Congress. “I was asked by the media about Congress leaders saying that there are discussions underway with the BSP for an alliance (for MP elections) for the next assembly elections. I clarified that we are not in discussions at the state level and, I think, neither at the central leadership level,” Ahirwar was quoted by PTI.
“As things stand today, we are going to contest all 230 Assembly seats,” he said. “I have received no directives in this connection (alliance) from the central leadership.”
The state Congress claimed that the party has never said that alliance talks were on with the BSP. “We never named any party. The Congress only said that we will try to have an alliance with political parties with similar ideology. We never mentioned BSP’s name,” MP Congress media cell’s Manak Agarwal said.
At a recent meeting of party leaders from all states held in Lucknow, Mayawati had said that the BSP will team up with any party in any state, or national, election only if it gets a “respectable” number of seats to contest on. Otherwise, she maintained, it will prefer to fight on its own. A senior BSP leader quoted above also said that the party has begun an overhaul of the organisation structure in MP to identify “inactive” leaders and replace them with active leaders at district, Assembly segment, sector and polling booth levels. “We have to complete the entire exercise and make the organisation ready for elections by August,” the leader said.
Leaders of other parties may see these increased organisational activities of the BSP as part of pressure tactic to bargain for seats of its choice. In 2013, the BSP had contested 227 of 230 seats in MP and won four: Dimani, Ambah, Raigaon, and Mangawan. It received 6.42 per cent votes. Statistically, pooling of votes in 2013 show the BJP tally would have reduced by 41 seats had the Congress and the BSP contested together. The BJP had won 165 seats, and the Congress 58 in 2013.
Possibilities of a pre-poll alliance had strengthened after Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and BSP chief Mayawati had shared the dais with leaders of several opposition parties at the swearing-in of new Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy last month.