BSP-JCC alliance in Chhattisgarh
The importance of Mayawati cannot be overemphasised in Indian politics. Even though the number of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MPs in Lok Sabha is nil and the number of MLAs in its stronghold Uttar Pradesh is only 17, the party is never out of reckoning in Indian politics. It was the third most-polled party in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, signifying the fact that the influence of the party now transcends far beyond UP. Recognising the influence of the party on the voters in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where the SC/ST population constitutes 10 per cent and 50 per cent respectively, Congress was looking for an alliance with BSP ahead of the Assembly polls in these states by the year-end. Talks were on between the two parties but a final seat-sharing deal was eluding. Now, putting all speculations to rest, Mayawati has announced a pre-poll alliance with Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) of Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh and said that her party would go it alone in Madhya Pradesh. According to the deal between BSP and JCC, BSP will contest 35 seats while JCC will contest 55 seats in the 90-member House. Congress has reacted strongly to the alliance and said that BSP has forged the alliance with JCC to support BJP as it was facing heat from investigating agencies such as Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED). The alliance between BSP and JCC was announced in Lucknow by Mayawati, who said Ajit Jogi will be the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance. "This alliance had been formed with the BJP's support and the people of the state had an understanding of it," state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel said Thursday. "In the coming polls too, the BSP will field candidates as per the ruling party's choice. This time the party has been exposed by supporting Mr Jogi who has acted as a 'B' team of the BJP," Baghel said. The alliance has also rattled the BJP camp as the party tries to retain power for the fourth consecutive term in the upcoming election later this year. Following the development, BJP President Amit Shah has planned a visit to Chhattisgarh to assess the poll preparedness and motivate party workers to put in their best effort. Reacting to the alliance between BSP and JCC, Chhattisgarh state BJP president Dharamlal Kaushik has said, "The BJP is not at all worried as it (BSP-JCC tie-up) will benefit the party and it will storm back to power for a fourth consecutive term." However, the new alliance also promises a triangular contest and BJP may have to factor in the new reality and accordingly chart out its plans for the Assembly election in the state. Ajit Jogi's son Amit, an MLA from Marwahi seat, said, "BSP chief Mayawati was well aware of the fact that the Congress is a sinking ship. She knows it is only the JCC which has the potential to snatch power from the ruling BJP," said Amit Jogi. In the last Assembly election in Chhattisgarh in 2013, BJP had won 49 seats, Congress 39, BSP 1 and Independent 1.
As BSP gets 35 seats to contest in a House of 90 members, BSP's seat-sharing deal with JCC is not only strategically a lot more meaningful but also more respectful to the party. In talks with Congress, Mayawati had asked for a respectful number of seats in all three BJP-ruled states where Assembly elections are due. But Congress wanted an alliance with BSP only in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, leaving out Rajasthan where BSP reportedly does not have enough influence to win elections. Now, Congress will have to go it alone in all the three states and that's not a great news for the party which wants to wrest power from BJP. The BSP-JCC alliance also hints at the lack of acceptability of Congress in the opposition camp. The Congress strategy has been to unite the opposition leaders and fight the 2019 Lok Sabha election as a united force but that idea does not seem to excite the leaders like Mayawati who does not want to go with Congress when the future looks uncertain. Both Ajit Jogi and Mayawati are said to have maintained good working relations with BJP. But at the moment, both the parties are struggling and need some big victories to get back to the mainstream politics. The alliance promises a tough triangular contest in which both Congress and BJP will have a tough time retaining their last seat tally. Congress will also miss BSP in Madhya Pradesh, where an alliance between BSP and Congress could have caused serious anxiety for BJP.