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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Mayawati picks Ajit Jogi over Congress for Chhattisgarh polls

Mayawati’s party also announced candidates for 22 seats in Madhya Pradesh, where the BSP is trying to iron out its differences with the Congress and form a coalition to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

india Updated: Sep 20, 2018 23:56 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
BSP supremo Mayawati and Janata Congress (Chhatisgarh) president Ajit Jogi during a press conference to annouce their alliance for assembly polls in Chhatisgarh, in Lucknow on Thursday.
BSP supremo Mayawati and Janata Congress (Chhatisgarh) president Ajit Jogi during a press conference to annouce their alliance for assembly polls in Chhatisgarh, in Lucknow on Thursday.(PTI Photo)
         

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati announced an alliance with Ajit Jogi’s Janta Congress in Chhattisgarh on Thursday, setting the stage for a triangular contest in the state that goes to polls later this year after her talks with the Congress on seat-sharing appeared to have collapsed.

Mayawati’s party also announced candidates for 22 seats in Madhya Pradesh, where the BSP is trying to iron out its differences with the Congress and form a coalition to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

A Congress leader in Delhi said on the condition of anonymity there was still a scope for negotiation in MP. He declined to comment on the developments in Chhattisgarh.

Elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — all ruled by the BJP — and the Congress-ruled Mizoram are due later this year. Telangana will also go to polls in a few months, but it is not clear if the voting will coincide with the other four states.

In Lucknow, Mayawati said Jogi’s party will contest 55 of Chhattisgarh’s 90 seats, and her party will field candidates in 35 constituencies.

Jogi, who was the chief minister during the Congress’s rule from 2000-2003, will be the CM candidate of the BSP-Janta Congress alliance, she said.

In a written statement to the media, Jogi said, “Both the parties have similar ideologies and this alliance will be for the poor, tribals, Dalits and marginalised of Chhattisgarh, who are suffering in the (rule of the) present government.”

Jogi said the newly formed alliance will create a “regional-level-option” for the people of Chhattisgarh.

On July 5, HT reported that a meeting between Jogi and Mayawati in Delhi had sparked speculations of a possible alliance between the BSP and Janta Congress.

The BSP fought all 90 seats in the 2013 Chhattisgarh elections, winning one and ending up with a vote share of 4.27%. The Congress won 39 seats and the BJP bagged 49. The difference of votes polled by BJP and the Congress was less than one per cent.

While Jogi has been supporting the cause of the tribals in the state, the BSP has a strong support base among Dalits. Tribals account for about 30.62% of Chhattisgarh’s population and Dalits account for about 11.72%.

The Congress, which is eyeing to end the BJP’s 15-year-rule in Chhattisgarh, said the tie-up will not affect its prospects.

“In the last three elections, the fight has always been between the Congress and the BJP, who together bagged 81% of the votes. The regional and other parties get the remaining 19% votes, and I don’t think there is any space for this opportunistic alliance,” said Vinod Verma, the chief strategist of the Congress’s Chhattisgarh unit.

BJP leaders, who did not wish to be identified, said the alliance may give a new lease of life to Jogi. “The Congress will definitely suffer as they wanted an alliance with the BSP. In the last couple of months, because of the health of Ajit Jogi, his party was ineffective. But after the alliance, they have got a new life. The Jogi-BSP alliance will surely have an impact on 10-15 seats,” said a strategist working closely with CM Raman Singh.

Ashok Tomar, a political commentator in Raipur, said, “The alliance will definitely change the dynamics of assembly elections now. This is also a fact that this alliance will not bag more than four seats but it will surely dent the Congress vote bank in some parts of Chhattisgarh.”

The BSP’s decision to announce 22 candidates in MP triggered speculation over its possible tie-up with the Congress. Most of the names were from the Chambal and Bundelkhand regions, bordering Uttar Pradesh, where the BSP has a considerable support base.

The BSP contested 227 out of the 230 seats in the 2013 elections in MP, won four, and had a vote share of 6.29%. The Congress won 58 seats with a share of 36.38% and the BJP 165 seats with a vote share of 44.88%.

First Published: Sep 20, 2018 23:55 IST

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