The party will send 60 central observers to MP to prepare a campaign blueprint.

 

In poll bound Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has initiated talks for a pre-poll tie-up with the BSP, but a meagre 12 to 15 seats have been offered to Mayawati’s party, sources told The Sunday Guardian.

Sources said that though Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia are particular that an understanding needs to be cemented with both BSP and tribal-dominated Gondwana Gantantra Party, the prevailing mood in the Congress’ state unit is to accommodate the two prospective allies in a total 20 seats.

A source said that if the BSP and the GGP do not squeeze in, in 20 seats, they are prepared to cede another 10 seats as “cushion”, but the state leaders are adamant that the Congress contests 200 of the 230 Assembly seats in MP.

“There have been numerous deliberations on the issue of allying with BSP and GGP, and most leaders, including Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath, and the high command are of the view we cannot let a repeat of 2013 when the anti-BJP votes got divided between the Congress, BSP and GGP, limiting the Congress’ tally to a humiliating 58,” said the source in the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, who was part of the recent deliberations among the state leaders on the question of alliance.

Another source said that although no official correspondence has been established with Mayawati, several leaders of both parties enjoy a personal rapport and they are in touch for a possible tie up. He said that Kamal Nath’s associates were talking to GGP leaders, as Nath has a good equation with them. Kamal Nath also enjoys a close bond with BSP supremo Mayawati.

“GGP has a good following among the tribals. Although it did not win any seat in 2013, it spoiled the Congress’ prospects in many seats. If we could secure our fate in a dozen seats by sparing four or five seats to the GGP, it would be a prudent move,” the source said. Sources said that the Congress high command is treating MP with a priority and has deputed 60 central observers who would arrive in the state this week. “Rahul Gandhi is keen on developing a constituency-focused campaign blue print, and he has handpicked a team of 60 central observers who would spread into the 230 constituencies. They have been tasked to ensure there is no infighting, the cadre remains mobilised and a people friendly manifesto is prepared,” a source revealed.

Pankaj Chaturvedi, senior spokesperson, MP Congress, told this reporter that an alliance would work in both Congress and BSP’s advantage, but there has not been any talk between the two.

“In Madhya Pradesh, we are considering a united fight to defeat the anti-farmer, anti-poor, casteist and divisive policies of the BJP. An alliance would ensure there is no division of the anti-BJP votes, but we will talk about it when we will talk about it,” Chaturvedi told this reporter.

He said the Congress would focus on a development-centric campaign, punctuated with issues such as farmers’ distress, corruption, and price rise. But a source added that the party would continue its soft-Hindutva electioneering, and there would be a fresh edition of Rahul Gandhi’s temple-run, as had been seen in Gujarat and Karnataka.

In the 2013 elections, the BSP had polled a respectable 6.29% vote share in the state. It won only four seats, but trounced the Congress’ fate in at least 50 seats, splitting the anti-BJP votes in constituencies bordering Uttar Pradesh and also in the Chambal region, where Dalits make up for 15% of the population.

Sources said that the Congress is mulling to join hands with the Samajwadi Party also, but not more than four-five seats would be offered. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had recently told the media that his party would contest all 230 seats in MP.

 

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