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NCP, BSP, GGP may eat into Cong votes

The BSP and GGP, along with NCP, may eat into the share of Congress votes and thus affect its poll prospects, writes PK Maitra.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2003 17:00 IST

The ruling Congress in Chhattisgarh is in for a tough time in the forthcoming Assembly elections. Apart from the emerging Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) and the left parties may spoil their calculations of an easy ride to power.

Political observers here point out that though the BSP is saying that it will ensure for preventing BJP from power, the BSP and GGP, along with NCP, may mainly eat into the share of Congress votes and thus affect the poll prospects of the ruling party.

The BSP had bagged three seats in 1998 Assembly elections but one of them - Dr Chhabilal Ratre of Sarangarh defected to the Congress. The party had also obtained over 20,000 votes in three other assembly constituencies and overall a total of 3.11 lakh votes in the State in last elections.

Though, BSP state president Daulal Ratnakar made it clear that its enemy number one is the BJP. After its break-up with the pro-Hindu party in Uttar Pradesh, it is hoping to damage the BJP in the elections by raising the issue that the upper caste party was harassing its Dalit leader, Mayawati.

But observers here feel that BSP traditionally gets anti-BJP votes and in the process it would only play a decisive role in affecting the electoral fortunes of Congress candidates, and could hardly dent the BJP. The BSP has a considerable clout in at least 20 Assembly constituencies and of them it can upset the calculations of almost 10 candidates.

It is believed that Jogi has a good rapport with the BSP supremo Kanshiram and he may forge a tacit understanding in some Assembly constituencies at the eleventh hour to bail out Congress candidates in those constituencies. However, the state BSP has a strong reservation on Jogi, as he was instrumental for defection of the BSP MLA, Dr Ratre, three years ago.

The BSP has decided to field 55 candidates, out of 90 Assembly constituencies in the state. The last year, it had fielded as many as 49 candidates from the region. While releasing the list, Dr Ratnakar said that BSP candidates were in a position to damage the BJP equation within certain constituencies and upset the Congress calculation in some other places.

According to him, a hung Assembly is inevitable in Chhattisgarh. "Neither the Congress nor the BJP will be able to come to power without the support of BSP and other smaller parties in the state," he said and claimed that the BSP would be the deciding factor in the ensuing elections.

Similarly, the GGP has a considerable influence in tribal belt in northern part of the State. The tribal population constitutes around 32.5 percent in Chhattisgarh and 34 seats are reserved for ST out of 90 Assembly seats in the State.

Hira Singh Markam of GGP was elected from Tanakhar Assembly constituency in Bilaspur in 1998 elections while it showed its presence in 11 other seats by obtaining sizeable votes.

Besides these two parties, Chhattiasgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM), founded by the legendary trade union leader, Shankar Guha Niyogi, and left parties - CPI and CMP - have made some inroads in the State. Janaklal Thakur of CMM lost to a Congress nominee by a narrow margin from Dondilohara, while the CPI were the immediate rival of the winning Congress candidates in Konta and Dantewada in Bastar region.

The CPI-CPM has a considerable clout in Bastar region since the beginning. The CPM got modest votes in Narayanpur Assembly constituency in the last elections.

The ruling Congress is worried about the division of this secular votes in the state and trying its level best for a tacit understanding with these outfits, where the Congress nominees are winning position.

First Published: Nov 03, 2003 17:00 IST