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Sonia admits Uttarakhand BSP into fold

NEW DELHI, Oct 3: Reflecting the current plurality in her party, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today admitted virtually the entire Utta...

Written by Vijay Simha |
October 4, 1998

NEW DELHI, Oct 3: Reflecting the current plurality in her party, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today admitted virtually the entire Uttarakhand Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) unit into her fold while keeping speculation alive on a possible understanding with Kanshi Ram in Madhya Pradesh.

Sonia has thus opened up a new angle to the possibility of a Congress-BSP coming together in the important Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections on November 25, which are seen as a tough task for the ruling Congress. While the BSP’s Uttarakhand unit merging into the Congress may not yield immediate results, with both outfits playing second fiddle to the BJP in UP’s hills, Congress leaders are hoping it could add to their advantage.

For one, it will almost certainly hurt the egos of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati who hate the sight of any of the BSP’s UP unit parting ways. In this case, the gainer has been the Congress which sees the BSP as one of the “casteist forces” delaying the Congress’ revival in UP. However, in the current eraof extreme flux, the BSP and the Congress could still swallow pride and get together.

Almost at the same time she took away the BSP’s Uttarakhand unit, Sonia cleared the 16-member PEC for Madhya Pradesh with an additional 15 members as special invitees. The list includes all major state Congress leaders with well-voiced pro and anti-BSP views. This is a signal that the Congress is keen to get its show in order in MP with or without the BSP. The Congress-BSP tie-up, whether it comes through or not, is the important story of this round of Assembly elections to four states, the first under Sonia’s presidency of the Congress.

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There is no ostensible reason for the Congress to have an electoral understanding in Rajasthan, Delhi or Mizoram where the political space is fairly polarised between the Congress and the BJP in Delhi and Rajasthan, and Congress and hill parties in Mizoram. And like true politicians, both BSP and Congress leaders are talking in terms of going solo for the coming elections.

In any case,the Congress could possibly not cede more than 40 to 50 seats in the 320-member MP Assembly. Even that is very thin at the moment with the BJP casting a huge shadow in MP.

In the past, the BJP has pulled off political coups with Kanshi Ram, upsetting the Congress-Samajwadi party apple cart in Uttar Pradesh by forming a joint government. That still hurts the Congress and in the current scenario, where the Sonia group is in command, the BSP will always be a suspicious ally at best.

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The Congress has already divided MP into four areas with new working PCC presidents for each. Should the party go for an understanding with the BSP, these regional chiefs, Ajit Jogi, Balendu Shukla, Parasram Bharadwaj and Rajmani Patel, will have to cede some seats.

At the moment, the majority Congress view is that the BSP’s influence is on the wane in MP but that could change as the D-day nears.

Most of these views will have to be thrashed out in the PEC itself. Led by MPCC president Urmila Singh, the PEC has, among others,Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, his deputy Subhash Yadav, working PCC chief Dalbir Singh, the four regional PCC chiefs, Arjun Singh, Motilal Vora, S C Shukla, Madhavrao Scindia, Speaker Srinivas Tewari, Kamal Nath, Gufran-e-Azam and Charan Das Mahant, all MPs.

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The special invitees are V C Shukla, recent returnee to the Congress Arvind Netam, Suresh Pachauri and R K Malaviya, both MPs, Harbans Singh, Jamuna Devi, H Siddiqui, all state ministers, Manju Rai, S C Jain, T S Kheer and heads of frontal bodies.

While these people battle on whether to take Kanshi Ram along, the BSP’s UP hill leaders were singing paeans to Sonia in the lawns of the AICC headquarters today.

Led by the BSP Uttarakhand general secretary, and former UP minister, Harak Singh Rawat, a host of district BSP leaders, 15 block pramukhs, 28 ex-block pramukhs, 154 members of municipal boards, 875 kshetriya samiti members, 1,362 village pradhans and 215 women’s dal chiefs. Statistically, this is a lot. The Congress hopes to reap the politicalharvest too in the coming weeks.

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First published on: 04-10-1998 at 12:00:00 am

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