Congress is resurgent in Madhya Pradesh, but it is the only state among the five going to poll in November, is ruled by the BJP, where it has better political prospects than in any other state. Logically, the opposition INDIA alliance should have gone for putting joint candidates against the BJP’s to avoid division in anti-BJP votes, but unfortunately they are contesting separately, and all efforts of reaching at some seat sharing arrangement have failed.
Pride generated within the Congress after the recent rise in its popularity, especially after Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra seems to have taken its leadership into its grip. This along with the traditional prejudice of its being the biggest among the opposition camp reflected in the party’s bigbrotherly attitude tends to form a deadly cocktail. Even though Congress seems to be over confident of winning the Madhya Pradesh election on its own, and believe that they can throw the ruling BJP out of power as it has done only a few months ago in May this year in Karnataka.
Congress needs to shed its pride and prejudice immediately, since Madhya Pradesh differs greatly from Karnataka. The background in which the election is being held now also greatly differs. However, the CM face of the Congress, Kamal Nath has said that discussions were held with the SP, but there were some “practical issues” in forming an alliance in the state, adding that the focus of INDIA was on national politics and the Congress had to take into consideration various local factors before teaming up with the SP in the state.
Talks went on even after that and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav says that Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh kept his leaders waiting till 1 AM when they went for seat-sharing talks. It was certainly a bigbrotherly attitude that irked SP leader Akhilesh Yadav and his colleagues. Even before that both parties have fielded candidates against each other on as many as 18 seats.
“Why did former Congress CMs Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh make us sit till 1 AM at night? You people are fooling other parties,” Akhilesh Yadav alleged. “If I had known that the alliance is not at the state-level, then I would have not sent SP leaders to Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nath. It I had known that Congress would cheat us, I would have never trusted them.”Akhilesh said, “I was told that six seats have been considered for you (read SP) but the result was zero.”
SP has now released its third list of candidates, and the total number of seats the party is contesting adds up to 33 in Madhya Pradesh having 230 seats. Though, SP had won only one seat in 2018 Vidhan Sabha election it has considerable support base i the constituencies bordering Uttar Pradesh. Every political party wants to grow and so is SP in Madhya Pradesh. Sharing even half of dozen seats with SP would have helped Congress not only in Madhya Pradesh, but in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections 2024 in other states too, especially in Uttar Pradesh, from where the way leads to the power in New Delhi. A clear message has reached the electorate of the country that INDIA alliance is still a divided house though outwardly united. SP and Congress have much to lose in comparison to the BJP if the differences among INDIA parties continue.
Congress must have taken it into consideration that their win on 114 seats in 2018 cannot be the basis of any seat-sharing arrangement, because it has been now reduced to only 98 in the outgoing Vidhan Sabha of the state where there are 230 seats. BJP had won 109 seats but its strength has since then increased to 128. Congress government was toppled by BJP, and when out of power since 2020 its organization strength has weakened, and hence it may not be able to translate its recent resurgence into votes at the grassroots level. The combined strength of the opposition might have been beneficial.
Bahujan Samaj Party has considerable support base in Madhya Pradesh and the party had won 2 seats in 2018 with 5.01 per cent of votes. Congress vote share was 40.89 per cent which has much reduced after split in 2020. On the other hand, BJP’s vote share was 41.02 per cent, which has increased after a former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia joined them. SP had 1.30 per cent of vote share.
It is in this backdrop Congress has declared to contest 229 seats on its own. BSP has announced its 7 candidates so far. Among INDIA alliance partners, SP has announced 33 and AAP has announced 39 candidates with an intention to contest all seats.
Failure of seat-sharing talks and the bitterness it has generated in the SP leadership, will certainly impact alliance between the two in Uttar Pradesh which sends 80 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
Indication of this has already has been aired by the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Rai, who has said that Congress is ready to contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats from the state. SP leader Akhilesh was not far behind, when he said earlier in Kanpur that his party would contest 2024 election on its own strength and Congress needs to see at what level the alliance was. SP has demanded a standard seat-sharing formula that is acceptable for all INDIA alliance partners. Deadlock in Madhya Pradesh is likely to escalate to Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere within INDIA alliance, and hence Congress should rethink over its present strategy. (IPA Service)