Cong, BSP come closer in MP
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Cong, BSP come closer in MP

The Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party are removing obstacles in the way for formalising an electoral pact, writes Prakash Pillai.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2003 18:40 IST

Caste equations and political compulsions seem to have dawned a new awakening among the two unlikely allies - the Madhya Pradesh Congress leadership and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The winds of change blowing in the state politics have ensured that the two are slowly but surely working to remove obstacles and irritants in the way of formalising a tie-up in the state.

While the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, who has been against any tie-up between the Congress and the BSP, has suddenly gone soft on the issue, the BSP chief Mayawati has obliged the CM by sacking hisbete-noir, Phool Singh Barraiya, the Madhya Pradesh BSP chief.

The sudden decision of Mayawati to replace Barraiya, a senior dalit leader from northern Madhya Pradesh, that too after the announcement of poll schedule and crucial campaigning period, has fuelled speculations about the BSP and Congress coming together. The sacking of Barraiya is seen by political observers as the first move by Mayawati to reach out to the Congress.

Barraiya, was very critical of Digvijay Singh and had projected Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) both as enemies of the dalits. Ever since taking over the reins of the party in the state he had been mobilising support against the policies of Digvijay Govt, a move that irked the Chief Minister on several occasions.

Initially, Mayawatihad replaced Barraiya with his supporter Sant Kumar, who was also the state unit vice-president. However, a few days after appointing Kumar she replaced him with PP Choudhary, a doctor from Morena who is said to be a neutral leader within the party and not a supporter of Barraiya.

With the CBI turning the heat on Mayawati over the Taj corridor scam and corruption cases, she has decided to divert all her energy and party resources to take on the BJP and prevent it from forming a government in any of the five states going to polls.

The new BSP chief Choudhary has refused to comment whether the BSP was entering into an arrangement with Congress in the state. He, however, added that the decision will be taken by the party chief who would make an announcement on the issue soon.

Digvijay Singh, who had earlier ruled out any alliance with the BSP, sprang a surprise by stating at a public meeting in Datia on Sunday that his party was open on the idea of electoral adjustment with the BSP.

With Digvijay hinting at the probability of a Congress-BSP alliance, the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Radhakishan Malviya,who along with him had resisted move by a section of some senior Congressmen, is also likely to give in.

The BSP enjoys good support in the districts bordering Uttar Pradesh and had won 11 seats from the state in 1998. The party had managed to get a substantial 6.15 per cent of total votes polled in the state last time. Moreover, BSP was instrumental in deciding the electoral fortunes of at least two dozen candidates in the state.

The coming together of Congress and BSP brings in bad news to the BJP. The party had been hoping that a three-way contest between it, Congress and BSP would split the votes enough to benefit its candidates.

First Published: Oct 27, 2003 17:28 IST