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Will Congress, CPI join hands to beat Uma Bharti?

If the two parties arrive at a tacit understanding at the ground level, Uma may find the going tough.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2003 03:08 IST

Is Uma Bharti on a sticky wicket in Malehra? The BJP may not think so since the Congress and the CPI, the two strong forces in this segment, are contesting separately. But if the two parties arrive at a tacit understanding at the ground level, Uma may find the going tough.

The Congress and the CPI had contested separately in 1998 too. But if added up, their combined tally was more than 20,000 votes over the BJP's total. Together, their vote share was 20 per cent more than the BJP's.

While BJP nominee and Uma's brother Swami Prasad had won the seat with 35,251 votes (36.38%) in 1998, the CPI candidate Kapoor Chand Dhruwara had secured 30,868 votes (31.86%). The Congress candidate, who came third, had got 24,409 votes (25.19%).

Officially, both the Congress and the CPI maintain there is no communication between them on pooling their resources to defeat Uma, the BJP's chief ministerial nominee and the party's Hindutva face. "I have not talked to anybody on this," said CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan. He dubbed Uma as the "quintessence of communalism" who needed to be defeated.

Uma, who is banking on the consolidation of OBC votes, would also hope to benefit if the Congress and the CPI fight separately. But it is also significant that the Congress has fielded a first-timer, Jagdish Shukla, against Uma.

He is seen as a "weak" candidate. However, the AICC general secretary in charge of MP, Ambika Soni, maintained: "We believe he is a strong candidate and will win."

Unlike first time contestant Shukla, Dhruwara has been around since 1977, when he lost to the Janata Party. A runner-up in 1998, the CPI candidate was last elected to the assembly in 1980.

The CPI will intensify its campaign in Malehra, with Bardhan along with former Prime Minister and JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda going there on November 21.

He is likely to renew his appeal to all "secular and democratic'' forces to vote against the BJP.

First Published: Nov 20, 2003 01:57 IST