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Cong, BJP wary of BSP, NCP

There are at least two dozen assembly segments where the BSP and the NCP, led by veteran VC Shukla, have the capability to influence the poll result, if not outrightly win the seats.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2003 19:53 IST

Elections to the Chhattisgarh state assembly is likely to witness a direct contest between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), much in contrast to the flavour of political alliances and realignment of forces across the political spectrum in the country.

In the first elections after the constitution of Chhattisgarh state, both the major parties, the Congress (I) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seem averse to the idea of a formal pre-poll alliance with regional parties. However, political compulsions cannot rule out the possibility of seat adjustments at the last minute.

The Congress and BJP that have kicked off its respective poll campaigns, seem to be apprehensive about two parties- the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Congress and BJP leaders are very clearly aware about the tight contest witnessed in at least 25 assembly constituencies in the state during the 1998 assembly elections, where the victory margin remained less than 5 per cent of the total valid votes polled. In at least a dozen and half assembly constituencies the BSP played a crucial role in determining the outcome.

Even today, there are at least two dozen assembly segments where the BSP and the NCP, led by veteran VC Shukla, have the capability to influence the poll result, if not outrightly win the seats.

The Sharad Power-led NCP that is an alliance partner of the Congress in neighbouring Maharashtra state is the strongest opponent of Congress in Chhattisgarh. The NCP state chief VC Shukla, one time Congress heavyweight, fell out of Congress after allegedly being ignored in the state politics and joined hands with NCP to oust the Ajit Jogi government. In 1989, the last time VC Shukla left the Congress and contested the Lok Sabha elections on a Janata Dal ticket, he was able to harm the Congress prospects in about a dozen constituencies.

However, this time Shukla has his task cut out as despite his best efforts to form an alternate political force to Congress and BJP in Chhattisgarh most of his supporters has remained loyal to the Congress and so has been the senior leaders.

The desperation of VC Shukla to keep Congress out of office in the state can be judged by the fact that he has expressed his willingness to team up with the BJP to keep Jogi and party at bay.

BSP on the other hand appears to be firmly entrenched. After its break-up with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, it is hoping to get closer to the Congress in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in a bid to damage the BJP. During the 1998 assembly polls BSP played a decisive role in affecting the electoral fortunes of candidates in at least 20 seats.

In Manendragarh (ST), Jarhagaon (SC) Takthpur, Masuri (SC), Akaltara, Champa, Baloda Bazar, Sakti, Palari (SC), Kasdol, Bhatgaon assembly contituencies the BSP polled substantially high percentage of votes while they won in Sipat and Pamgarh constituencies. They are still very strong in these constituencies.

First Published: Oct 16, 2003 19:53 IST