In Mayawati’s solo act in MP and Rajasthan, it’s advantage BJP
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati’s announcement that her party will go it alone in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will turn the electoral contest into a triangular one as the party enjoys significant support in at least one-third of the total assembly constituencies in the two states.
The BSP will contest in an alliance with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress in Chhattisgarh.
The Congress was keen to ally with the BSP in the three states to prevent any division in the anti-incumbency votes against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BSP’s decision may help the BJP, especially in the constituencies where the contest will be close, political analysts said.
The BSP’s vote share in the three states has fluctuated between 3% and 8% , but the party has pockets of influences.
For instance, in northern Madhya Pradesh bordering Uttar Pradesh, the party has, in the past, won up to 20% of the total votes polled, winning seven of the 34 seats in the region in 2008. The party has a significant vote-bank in the eastern region of the state.
Even though the scheduled caste population in Madhya Pradesh is 15.6%, the BSP has not been able to get that percentage of votes. In the 2013 assembly elections, the party contested on all 227 seats and polled 6.29% votes winning four seats. It got about three percentage points less than in 2008 polls when it won seven seats. However, in 40 assembly seats the combined votes polled for Congress and BSP in 2013 was more than the votes polled for the winning BJP.
Similarly, in Rajasthan the party has a sizeable vote-bank among Dalits in the Alwar-Bharatpur and Shekhawati regions, where it received about 10% of the total votes polled in 2008. However, its vote share in the 2013 polls in these regions fell by half.
The BSP’s overall vote share in Rajasthan in 2013 was 3.37%, compared to 7.6% in 2008, when it won six seats. The scheduled caste population in Rajasthan is about 18%, although this population is dominant in about 60 of the 200 assembly seats. In five districts of Ganganagar, Bikaner, Dholpur, Karauli and Bharatpur, the SC population is more than 21%.
Mayawati said the Congress was offering her party only nine seats in Rajasthan and 25 in Madhya Pradesh. “We have noticed that whenever we contest in alliance, all our votes get transferred to Congress,” she said.
Congress leaders in Rajasthan had opposed the move to partner with the BSP saying it would adversely impact their party’s future in the state. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress leaders felt that the BSP’s demand for 50 seats was unrealistic.
Congress leaders in the two states refused to comment on BSP’s announcement saying only central leaders would speak on the issue. They, however, said the contest would still be between the BJP and the Congress.
The BJP was delighted at the turn of events. Rajasthan BJP spokesperson Satish Poonia said the Congress and the BSP were trying to forge an “unnatural alliance”. Madhya Pradesh BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said: “The intellectuals associated with the BSP must have convinced its chief that association with the Congress would do immense damage to the party.”
Bhopal based political analyst Girija Shankar said: “It is too early to say how much it (BSP going alone in two states) will affect the results but Congress has suffered a jolt in its attempt to create the perception that it is going for a grand alliance against the BJP. The BSP chief has sent out a message that her party was fighting more against the Congress than the BJP.”