New Delhi: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Wednesday rebuffed the Congress party and decided to go it alone in the upcoming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The move not only deals a severe blow to the efforts of the opposition to forge a united front against the incumbent Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) but also potentially alters the contours of the upcoming electoral contest by making it a three-way fight. Earlier, BSP had abandoned similar alliance talks with the Congress and instead opted to align with former chief minister Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress party in Chhattisgarh—which is also be going to polls.

Addressing a press conference, BSP chief Mayawati blamed the Congress for the breakdown in talks and accused it of adopting a big brother approach to the alliance.

“We will not contest elections with Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan at any cost. Congress is not serious about defeating BJP. We had asked for 9-10 seats in Rajasthan, 15-20 seats in Madhya Pradesh and 5-6 seats in Chhattisgarh but Congress did not agree," she said.

The Congress party, in its immediate response, sought to shrug off the allegations and hinted that the alliance could be resurrected ahead of the 2019 general election.

“If there is consensus between Mayawati, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi then no other person can create trouble. Mayawati has expressed her opinion and she has also expressed mutual respect and confidence for Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi," said Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress spokesperson.

While a section of Congress leadership was interested in an alliance with Mayawati in Madhya Pradesh, the state leadership in Rajasthan was not keen. Mayawati on her part refused to be drawn into commenting on the prospects of reviving the alliance for the 2019 general election.

“It seems just like BJP, Congress too is trying to finish BSP politically but it won’t happen. It is the arrogance of Congress to think that it can defeat BJP on its own. Congress has the misconception that it can face BJP on its own. It is because of these political decisions that Congress has lost elections repeatedly and BJP is winning state after state," Mayawati added.

The upcoming state polls are politically crucial for Mayawati as her party was unable to play a decisive role in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections in which BSP just won 19 seats with a vote share of 22.2%. While trying to regain political relevance in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati is also seeking to expand her social and electoral footprint in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. BSP had only managed to win 4 seats with a 6.2% voter share in Madhya Pradesh in 2013 and 3 seats with a vote share of 3.3% in Rajasthan in the 2013 state polls.

“Congress is scared of BJP that is why it doesn’t give tickets to Muslims. But BSP is not like Congress because we know farmers, poor, Dalits, tribals, women, and Muslims support the movement of BSP. We had agreed to form alliance with Congress to stop BJP from winning. It is because of wrong decisions taken by Congress that BJP has been in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for a long time," Mayawati said.

The upcoming assembly elections in the three state are also crucial for BSP because of the shrinking voter base of the party. Both the main national parties, especially the BJP, has been trying to woo Scheduled Caste (SC) voters. Efforts have been made by the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi to alter the social base of the party.

Political analysts feel that the decision of Mayawati not to forge an alliance with Congress is a big setback.

“It is big setback for Congress and the entire calculation for forming an anti-BJP coalition. Mayawati holds a considerable vote share in many states. The presence of BSP in Madhya Pradesha and Rajasthan can play a crucial role against BJP. The challenge is also for Mayawati because now she will have to perform on her own and BSP may not be able to win a single seat outside Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 general elections," said Sanjay Kumar, political analyst and director of the New Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Close