Ahead of impending polls in nine state assemblies and the parliamentary elections of 2009, the Congress has begun the process of firming up pre-poll alliances and is particularly keen to stitch up an arrangement with the Bahujan Samaj Party.
In this connection, political significance is being attached to last Sunday’s meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BSP chief Mayawati. Apprehensive of the possible damage the BSP might do to its prospects in the polls, the Congress is evidently desirous of having the BSP on its side.
Recent reports had indicated a tie-up between the Congress and Samajwadi Party to oppose the BSP in Uttar Pradesh. But the meeting between Sonia and Mayawati is likely to have an adverse impact on that emerging bonhomie.
In Himachal Pradesh, Mayawati made just three rounds of the state during the electioneering phase, and yet her party managed to garner 7.79 per cent of the votes. In Gujarat, which has no history of Dalit consolidation, the BSP secured 2.75 per cent votes. Legitimate concerns of the Congress think tank relate to this possibility: if the BSP were to repeat those performances in Karnataka, Punjab, Delhi or Madhya Pradesh, the BJP’s prospects of forming the government in these states would be substantially strengthened.
The threat of revival of the Taj Corridor and disproportionate assets cases continues to hang on the chief minister’s head.
She has also shown some signs of being rattled by Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to revive the Congress in UP. But the possibility of a political truce being worked out cannot be ruled out, a senior Congress leader said.
The United National Progressive Alliance partners — facing a leadership crisis at the national level — are also veering around to the view that they need to tie up with one or either of the national parties ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.
Analysts in the Congress believe the right alliances will fetch the right results. The vote shares of both the BJP and Congress in past elections have remained more or less stable. Groupings and agreements will be the determining factor.
Towards this end, the Congress views the BSP as a key player.