After tensions between the Congress and Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party over seat-sharing for Madhya Pradesh, Congress has been looking for an option and exploring the possibilities for an alliance with the BSP in UP for the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections. According to sources, both sides are in constant touch again, despite Mayawati earlier announcing that her party would go all alone in the upcoming LS polls. Political analysts believe that ‘any possible coming together of BSP and Congress is expected to throw up new political permutations ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections’. Within the INDIA alliance, a few leaders from the Congress do want to bring the BSP on board, having set its sights on Dalit votes. Dalits were traditional voters for the Congress before the formation of the BSP. In the last few elections, a major section of non-Jatav Dalits swayed towards the BJP, and Jatav votes were also split between BSP, BJP, SP and Congress. The Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress on 9th October launched its Dalit outreach campaign “Dalit Gaurav Samvad” on the occasion of BSP founder Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary. The nearly two-month-long campaign, which will conclude on November 26, is focused on knowing the demands and aspirations of the Dalit community through “Dalit Adhikar Mang Patra”.
CONGRESS BATS FOR JAILED AZAM KHAN, WELCOMES IN MORE MUSLIM LEADERS
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh is batting for Samajwadi Party’s (SP) most visible Muslim face, Azam Khan, who is lodged in Sitapur district jail. A bid to reconnect with Muslims, who form about 19 per cent of the total population of the state, came a cropper when the Azam Khan refused to meet UP Congress chief Ajai Rai recently, indicating the limit on the number of visitors in Sitapur jail as per the jail manual. According to sources, the purpose of the meeting is to express solidarity with Azam Khan and to signify the indications to Azam Khan that party is set to welcome him into the Congress. However, Azam Khan, his wife and son were sentenced to seven years of imprisonment under a birth certificate forgery case. By taking up his case, the Congress is subtly attempting to indicate to the minorities that the party is heartedly ready to raise its voice for all those who feel exploited under BJP. In western UP, where Azam Khan once dominated, several Muslim leaders of influence have either joined the Congress or are tipped to cross over, after the results of the assembly elections in five states are out on December 3. Former lawmaker Imran Masood, who carries some influence in Saharanpur and nearby areas, has returned to the Congress, while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had recently met Danish Ali, BSP’s Lok Sabha MP from Amroha.
JARANGE-PATIL WANTS OBC DESIGNATION FOR MARATHAS
After Congress, JD(U), RJD raised their voice for OBC, EBC and Dalit politics, now the founder of Shivba Sanghatana, Jarange-Patil has been demanding from the Centre and Maharashtra government to declare Marathas as Kunbis, so that the community can get access to reservation for OBCs. However, the Jarange-Patil’s demand has faced stiff opposition from the OBCs and also a section of the Marathas, who have stated firmly that there is a difference between the 96-Kuli-Maratha and Kunbi-Maratha. Meanwhile, Jarange-Patil has now started a fast-unto-death hunger strike at the Antarwali Sarathi village in the Jalna district of the state. Earlier, he was on a hunger strike from August 29 until September 14, calling it off after the chief minister paid him a visit in the village and assured him the reservation would be duly granted. Villagers of the Maratha community are engaged in tearing down banners and hoardings of political parties and burning them. This leading boycott call is spreading to other villages in Maharashtra.
SEAT-SHARING FRICTIONS PLAGUE INDIA BLOC; SP, JD(U) JOLTS IRK CONGRESS
Looks like the INDIA bloc is being weighed down by infighting. First the Samajwadi Party displayed rebellious attitude against the Congress, and now JDU has given a jolt to the alliance. The Janata Dal (United), which is the ruling party in Bihar and a major member of the Opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, has released its initial list of five candidates for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh elections on 17 November. This comes after JD(U)’s attempts to form an alliance with the Congress party in MP did not materialise and thus, it became the third party from the INDIA Alliance to field its candidates against Congress in the BJP-ruled state. Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) has till now announced 42 candidates through four lists and intends to contest around 50 seats, while the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has till now announced a total of 69 candidates through three lists. Meanwhile, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that the state units of the Congress party will take their own decisions on seat-sharing with regional parties for the upcoming Assembly elections and seat-sharing discussions for the Lok Sabha polls are yet to happen.
PRIYANKA PRAISES GEHLOT’S WELFARE SCHEMES, GAS CYLINDERS AT HALF-PRICE
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi is participating as a frontline leader in Rajasthan assembly elections. Extending her series of public meetings – Niwai (Tonk) on September 10 and Sikrai (Dausa) on October 20, she also addressed a rally in Ardawata village in Jhunjhunu on October 25, where she slammed the BJP-led Centre, condemned BJP’s schemes as hollow, while praising those framed by the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan which are being implemented in the ground. Priyanka said that the bill for women’s reservation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies has been passed in Parliament, but it will take 10 years to implement under the BJP led Centre. Priyanka Gandhi and CM Gehlot also promised two “guarantees” if the Congress is re-elected in the state — cooking gas cylinders for Rs 500 to 1.05 crore families and an annual honorarium of Rs 10,000 to the woman head of a family. (IPA Service)