The Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) of Chhotu Vasava, which is in talks with the Congress for a pre-poll alliance in Gujarat, will hold a meeting at Ankleshwar in Bharuch on Wednesday to decide on the party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha elections.
The party, which has a considerable influence in the tribal areas of south Gujarat, had an electoral alliance with the Congress in the state during the 2017 Assembly polls and had won two of the five Assembly seats that it contested.
Notably, the BTP will meet a day after the Congress Working Committee meeting in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
“The national leaders of the Congress are coming to Gujarat to attend the party’s CWC meet in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. We hope that on Thursday or Friday, we will be able to hold a meeting with Congress leaders to discuss sharing of seats. We are keeping our fingers crossed and are waiting for the proposals put forth by the Congress leaders. If there is a alliance with the Congress, it will be good, and if not then we will field our candidates and contest the Lok Sabha elections alone,” BTS national president Mahesh Vasava told The Indian Express.
Sources said that Mahesh Vasava, BTP founder Chhotu Vasava and party leader Anil Bhagat had met senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel a few days ago for seat sharing talks. In the meeting, BTP had expressed its wish to contest five Lok Sabha seats in alliance with the Congress — Bharuch, Bardoli (Surat), Dahod, Chhota Udepur and Valsad.
Except Bharuch, all the four remaining seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
Sources said that Chhotu Vasava, who is also at presently an MLA, will contest from Bharuch Lok Sabha seat, which the BJP’s Mansukh Vasava has been winning since 1998. In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Manuskh had polled 5.48 lakh votes defeating the Congress candidate by over 1.5 lakh votes.
In the recently concluded Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, BTS had fielded its candidates in all the three states — four in Madhya Pradesh, five in Chhattisgarh and 11 in Rajasthan — despite having no alliance with the Congress.
While the Congress won all the three states, BTS won two Assembly seats in Rajasthan — the tribal dominated seats of Chorasi and Sagwara along the border with Gujarat.
For Wednesday’s meeting, BTS has invited presidents and vice-presidents of the party’s Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra units.
“At the national-level meeting, we will discuss with the presidents of our state units about which candidates to field and where to field them from. After the national-level meeting, it will be clear on how many seats we will put up our candidates in the Lok Sabha polls,” said Mahesh Vasava.
Voting in all the 26 Lok Sabha constituencies in Gujarat will take place in the third phase of the election on April 23.