Why Failure to Form an Alliance With BSP in MP Shouldn't Worry Congress

The numbers suggest that a coalition with Mayawati's party would not be particularly beneficial to the Congress.

In the 2013 Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 165 of 230 seats and formed the government. Having bagged only 58 seats, the Congress party resigned itself to another five-year hiatus. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won four seats and independent candidates captured the other three.

In a state polarised between the BJP and Congress, the BSP’s four seats might not seem like much. But statistics indicate that in the last assembly elections the BSP, in addition to winning those four seats, received the second highest number of votes for 11 seats, and received more than 10,000 votes for 64 seats. Of those 64, there are 21 seats for which the BSP received more than 30,000 votes and 11 seats with more than 40,000 BSP votes.

For the other 163 seats, although the BSP received less than 10,000 votes, most of those were won by the BJP by a very narrow margin against the Congress.

Experts believe that had BSP’s vote share gone to the Congress, the ruling party and the opposition party would be flipped.

For this reason, there has been talk for some time of a coalition between the BSP and the Congress in Madhya Pradesh. Congress’s Madhya Pradesh president Kamal Nath has repeatedly asserted that the BSP-Congress coalition is in its final stages. The possibility of a coalition was, however, seriously undermined on September 20 when the BSP unilaterally declared 22 candidates for the upcoming elections.

BSP president Mayawati announced, moreover, that the party would fight the election in Madhya Pradesh on its own. There was also talk of a Congress-BSP coalition in Chhattisgarh, until Mayawati decided to partner with Ajit Jogi’s Chhattisgarh Janata Congress. This sent a strong signal that Mayawati does not wish to pursue any coalition with the Congress.

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Despite these steps taken by Mayawati, Kamal Nath has been seen announcing from various platforms that talks for a BSP-Congress coalition are still underway. On the other hand, various political and media institutions have speculated that Mayawati made these decisions under pressure from the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is currently conducting an investigation against her. Former MP chief minister Digvijay Singh has declared openly that Mayawati said what she did under the pressure from the Central government and its investigative agencies.

Mayawati called a press conference on October 3 in order to refute these assertions. She said that the Congress itself, due to its arrogance and the presence of Digvijay Singh, was to blame for the coalition not taking shape.

There has been talk of a BSP-Congress coalition since the beginning of the year. Kamal Nath was appointed to the position of chairman on April 26, and he has repeatedly spoken about the coalition from various platforms ever since. Why, then, were the two parties unable to successfully form the coalition in the five months between April and September? Even if the speculation that Mayawati is under pressure from the government and the CBI holds truth, why did the Congress allow the BJP five months to build pressure on the BSP? Especially in light of what happened in Goa, where the BJP was able to horsetrade their way into power in just one day (despite the Congress having won the highest number of seats)?

Kamal Nath. Credit: Facebook/Kamal Nath

It seems, therefore, that more than government or CBI pressure, what is responsible for the failure to form a coalition is, as Mayawati has said, the inability of the Congress and BSP to come to an agreement regarding a respectable division of seats. The lack of effort on the part of the Congress to pursue this coalition also points in this direction.

It happens often that two or more than two parties that form a coalition fail to agree with each other about how seats ought to be divided. It is sometimes believed that the division should follow from past performances of the parties involved. In that case, was the BSP’s performance in the previous elections such that it would receive what it considers a respectable share of the seats (and also enable the Congress to come into power)?

Is the expert opinion that had the BSP’s vote share gone to the Congress in 2013, the party in power and the party in opposition would be flipped, correct?

Meanwhile, media outlets have started giving traction to the story that the BSP asked the Congress for 30 seats and was declined. Yet neither the Congress nor the BSP have officially confirmed this.

The question raised by these speculations is nonetheless legitimate: How many seats can a party that won four seats in the previous election expect in exchange for joining a coalition?

BSP vote bank

The BSP registered its presence in Madhya Pradesh for the first time in the 1990 legislative assembly elections. At that time Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were one. The latter split off as a separate state in 2000, which brought down the number of Vidhan Sabha seats in MP from 320 to 230.

Of those 230, the BSP had won only one, Deotalab, in the 1990 elections (and of the other 90 that eventually went to Chhattisgarh, BSP had also only won one).

The party’s performance improved in 1993. The BSP won 10 seats from the 230 that now belong to MP (and another one from the 90 that now belong to Chhattisgarh). This remains the BSP’s best electoral performance.

This number decreased to eight in 1998 (and an additional three in present-day Chhattisgarh). In 2003, the BSP managed to win only two seats. It won seven seats in 2008 and then just four in the previous elections.

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Throughout this time period, the BSP had fielded candidates in all the constituencies. It fought in 227 seats in 2013, and 194 of its candidates lost their deposits. It received more than 10,000 votes in 64 seats, more than 30,000 votes in 21 seats, and came second in the tally in 11 seats.

In six legislative assembly elections, the BSP has managed to win only 32 seats (from 24 constituencies).

The BSP, as a result, does not appear as an alternative, but rather as a party that cuts the votes of other parties.

Therefore, the first question for the Congress regarding a coalition with the BSP was regarding what would constitute a respectable number of seats for a party that has only four MLAs in the legislative assembly.

On the other hand, because the BSP has fielded candidates in all the constituencies of the state and thereby has workers and influence everywhere in the state, it is concerned about maintaining that presence and influence. How many seats should it demand from the Congress in order to retain its presence in the state?

In her October 3 press conference, Mayawati accused the Congress of wanting to destroy the BSP. She also said, “Congress thinks that it can single-handedly displace the BJP from power, but it will not be able to do so.”

Mayawati’s statements are legitimate. That is because the BSP’s existence in the state would indeed be undermined if it did not receive a respectable share of the total number of seats. Suppose for a moment, in accordance with the information that has come forth from Congress-affiliated sources, that the Congress agrees to share 15-18 seats with the BSP.

This is what Mayawati has also assumed: “Congress wants to give us just 15-20 seats in the coalition. Whenever we have fought in a coalition, we have lost our entire vote share to the Congress. We lost even more seats then. Upon consideration, this has made us conclude that the Congress wants to destroy small parties like the BSP.”

For a party that usually contends for all 230 seats to restrict itself to 15-18 seats means forgoing its statewide network of party members and workers, and its impression on people’s minds. This is why Mayawati’s statements seem legitimate.

Along with the difficulty of coming to an agreement regarding the division of seats, there is also the issue of the Congress not being sure that it would indeed win in coalition with the BSP. That is why, as yet, the Congress has not been decisive regarding the coalition.

Of the six regions of Madhya Pradesh – Vindhya, Malwa-Nimar, Bundelkhand, Gwalior-Chambal, Madhya Bharat, and Mahakaushal – the BSP’s influence is restricted to Vindhya and Gwalior-Chambal.

The 24 constituencies from which the BSP has won 32 seats in six elections include 10 from Vindhya (Chitrakoot, Raigaon, Rampur Baghelan, Sirmaur, Teonthar, Mauganj, Deotalab, Mangawan, Gurh) and 14 from Gwalior-Chambal (Sabalgarh, Jaura, Sumawali, Morena, Dimani, Ambah, Mehgaon, Gohad, Sewrah, Bhander, Gwalior Grameen, Gird, Dabra, Karaira, Ashoknagar). It is notable that the Gird seat of Gwalior-Chambal was disestablished in 2008 and the constituency of Bhitarwar came into existence in its place.

The BSP’s electoral performance has mostly been good only in these constituencies. Of the 21 seats for which the BSP received more than 30,000 votes in 2013, 11 are included among these.

As a result, regarding the issue of a respectable division of seats, the BSP is seen as asserting its claim over these 24. Amongst these, the BSP has won Rampur Baghelan, Deotalab, Gurh, and Sumawali twice and won Mauganj and Jaura thrice.

Additionally, of the 11 constituencies in which the BSP placed second in 2013, four were from the 24 mentioned above. Although the BSP have never won any of the other seven seats, it has received a good share of votes in them.

They include two seats from Vindhya, Semariya and Rewa, two seats from Bundelkhand, Maharajpur and Panna, two seats from Gwalior-Chambal, Sheopur and Bhind, and one seat from Mahakaushal, Katangi. It received more than 40,000 votes in Sheopur and Bhind, and more than 30,000 votes in Semariya, Maharajpur, and Katangi .

If these seven are added to the count of the “respectable” number of seats to which the BSP can lay claim (which comprises only the aforementioned 24 so far), the total count comes to 31.

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In Vindhya’s Nagod, Maihar, Amarpatan, and Bundelkhand and in Gwalior-Chambal’s Lahar, the BSP received more than 30,000 votes, yet only stood third.

If these are also added to the count of the “respectable” number of seats to which the BSP can lay claim, the total comes to 36.

The BSP likely has these seats in mind when it asks for 30 seats to join the coalition.

As of now, however, 10 of these 36 constituencies, Chitrakoot, Lahar, Dabra, Bhitarwar, Karera, Nagod, Maihar, Amarpatan, Mauganj and Gurh, are under Congress rule.

Keeping that in mind, why would the Congress, expecting a victory due to anti-incumbency sentiment, let go of its hold on those ten seats? And wouldn’t the current Congress MLAs of those constituencies be displeased?

Following the 2013 elections, had the Congress asked its seat-winning members to give up their seats to another party, it would have sown the seeds of internal revolt. Already so subject to internal conflict, the Congress could not afford to take such a risk.

However, from the BSP’s point of view, six out the 10 seats are part of the 24 seats won by the BSP in the state. Therefore, of the 24 seats on account of which BSP had been winning, Congress could pay attention to only 18 seats being claimed by the BSP, while the BSP could lay claims to those eight seats for which it had received more than 30,000-40,000 votes or acquired second position.

Now, there was contestation regarding the calculations surrounding the remaining 26 seats too.

The eight seats in which BSP received more than 30,000 votes or second place

First, let us discuss those seats for which the BSP received more than 30,000-40,000 votes or obtained second place. These seats are Semariya, Rewa, Maharajpur, Panna, Sheopur, Bhind, Katangi and Bahoriband.

The Semariya Vidhan Sabha seat first came into existence after the delimitation of 2008. Since then, it has been under the BJP. In 2008, Abhay Mishra became MLA, and in 2013, his wife, Neelam Mishra occupied the seat. In both cases, the BSP attained second position. In 2008, the BJP, BSP and Congress received 27.81%, 21.59% and 18.67% of the votes, respectively. In 2013, the BJP, BSP and Congress received 30.01%, 25.05% and 23.88% of the votes, respectively.

Viewed from this perspective, the BSP’s claim to this seat in the coalition would appear strong. However, matters get complicated when Abhay Mishra, responsible for winning this seat for BJP, joins Congress, and his wife and incumbent MLA, Neelam Mishra, on account of being angry with the BJP, refuses to contest elections.

When the BJP cancelled Abhay Mishra’s ticket in 2013, he made his wife contest the elections and kept the MLA status, so to speak. Now that he is a member of the Congress, he obviously does not want to let go of his MLA status. On the other hand, there is some talk of Neelam Mishra joining the Congress.

In this situation, the Congress will refuse to hand over this seat to the BSP as it has a contestant who had previously been responsible for making the BJP win this seat. Were the Congress to hand over this seat to the BSP, Abhay Mishra, with his propensity towards defection, would cause troubles for the Congress.

The Rewa seat belongs to the state’s minister of industry, Rajendra Shukla who has been winning this seat for the BJP since 2003 with a one-sided majority, as he got more than 50% of the votes. During this period, the BSP has retained second position with an average of 19% votes. The Congress, on the other hand, has received 17% votes.

Though all of this strengthens the BSP’s claim, matters get complicated when Maharaja Pushparaj Singh of the Rewa’s royal family, who had won this seat thrice before 2003 and served as a minister in the Congress government led by Digvijay Singh, joins the Congress once again. Not only is his claim to this seat strong, but the Congress also desires to regain this seat through the power of his name.

Digvijay Singh. Credit: PTI/Files

On the other hand, Kusum Singh Mehdele, a minister in the Shivraj Chouhan government, is the MLA from Panna. Since 1990, the BJP has won this seat four times and the Congress has won this seat twice. In 2013, the BJP received 36.86% of the votes, the BSP attained second position with 17.32% votes and the Congress received 15.77% votes. For the first time in history, the BSP attained second position in this seat. Previously – in the five elections that have taken place since 1993 – the BSP has usually received an average of 9% votes, while the Congress has obtained approximately 27% votes.

The BSP received 13.23%, 8.63%, 7.20% and only 2.06% votes in 2008, 2003, 1998 and 1993, respectively. In the coalition, Congress’s claim to this seat was strengthened by the fact that in the elections prior to 2008, this seat had been won by the Congress.

On the other hand, Congress’s Brajraj Singh has been contesting elections from Sheopur since 1993. He has been elected MLA from here twice. He has a dedicated vote bank here that the Congress benefits from. When the Congress cancelled his ticket in 1998, he contested elections as an independent candidate and won on account of that very vote bank. Currently, this seat is held by the BJP’s Durgalal Vijay. However, in the previous elections, in 2008, Brajendra Singh, contesting on the Congress’s ticket, won this seat.

However, the BSP too maintains a strong vote bank here. In the previous Vidhan Sabha election, the BSP attained second position with 20.82% (48,784) votes. In 2003, too, the BSP obtained second position and lost to the BJP by a difference of merely 2.37% votes. However, in the coalition, were this seat to go to the BSP, then neither the Congress nor the coalition would benefit from Brajraj Singh’s contesting elections as an independent candidate. Brajraj has his own vote bank that Congress consistently benefits from.

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With regard to the Bhind seat too, the BSP is in second place. This is the seat that was consistently won by ex-Congress minister Chaudhary Rakesh Singh. Just before the 2013 Vidhan Sabha elections, he joined the BJP. This caused the Congress’s votes to fall from 34% to 17%. Since 1990, he had maintained Congress’s hold on this seat and had registered his victory thrice by 2008.

Since 1998, the competition for this seat has been between Narendra Singh Kushwaha and Rakesh Singh. Currently, Narendra Singh is the BJP MLA. The BSP has consistently obtained 20-22% votes here. In 2013, the BSP obtained second place for the first time, having only obtained third or lower positions previously.

This happened because Narendra Singh’s closest rival Chaudhary Rakesh Singh did not contest elections, causing the Congress’s vote percentage to fall to a mere half of its previously acquired vote percentages. The BSP got 45,117 (35.90%) votes.

For this seat, faces have proven to be more memorable than parties. When, in 2008, the BJP cancelled Narendra Singh’s ticket, he contested the elected through the Samajwadi Party (SP) and obtained second position.

On the other hand, with regard to this seat, there has been a history of alternate victories for the Congress and BJP. Since the BJP won in 2013, Congress must anticipate victory through a strong candidate and therefore must not have agreed to give this seat to the BSP in the coalition.

With regard to the Katangi seat too, the BJP was victorious and the BSP stood second. However, in 2008, the Congress had won this seat. In the five elections that took place between 1993 and 2013, Congress won this seat thrice.

The BSP has never won here and has received, on average, 25% votes. For the first time, the BSP obtained second position and secured a mere 2.83% votes more than Congress, which came in third. Therefore, Congress’s claim to this seat is stronger.

On the other hand, the BJP won the Bahoriband seat and having received 32,839 votes, the BSP attained second position. However, the Congress has won this seat four times since 1993, losing only once in 2013. Therefore, in the coalition, the BSP cannot get this seat.

The Maharajpur seat is the only one which has been under the BJP’s control since 1990. Though Manvendra Singh won this seat independently in 2008, in 2013 he contested elections through the BJP and emerged victorious. In 2013, the BSP obtained more than 30,000 votes for this seat and acquired second position. The BSP has held second position for this seat since 2003.

Since 2003, the Congress’s vote percentage here has been 13% while the BSP’s has been 20%. Therefore, this is the only seat that can go to the BSP in the coalition.

In this way, out of the 36 seats from constituencies with strong BSP vote banks, if we exclude the 10 with Congress MLAs along with these seven, we are left with 19 seats out of which 18 are those that the BSP has won previously.

The question is: Was there a debate about those 18 seats that led to a disagreement between the Congress and the BSP with regard to the division of seats?

Of these 18, four seats – Ambah, Raigaon, Mangawan and Dimani – belong to the BSP. Therefore, naturally, in the event of a coalition, the BSP’s claim to these seats will be considered stronger. Raigaon and Ambah were, traditionally, the BJP’s seats during the 1990s. The BSP broke this tradition and won these seats in 2013.

Mangawan was also won by the BSP for the first time in 2013. This seat was won by the BJP in 2003 and 2008, and before that was won consistently by Shrinivas Tiwari of the Congress.

However, the Dimani seat complicates the matter. The BJP won the Dimani seat six out eight times between 1980 and 2013. The Congress last won this seat in 1993. Most recently, the BSP emerged victorious and the Congress attained second position. In 2008, the BSP came in second.

In the event of a coalition, this seat could have gone to the BSP. However, the Congress has lost this seat in the past four elections only by a difference of 1-2% votes. Therefore, it is unlikely that in the event of a coalition, the Congress would give this seat to the BSP, especially when the Congress is certain about its ability to form government this time around.

The BSP has strong claims to three out of the four seats won in 2013. The status of Dimani is debatable. Now, let us consider the 14 seats won in the elections held before 2013.

With regard to the Rampur-Baghelan seat, the competition is usually between the BSP and BJP. The BSP won this seat in 1993 and 2008. In 1998, 2003 and 2008, it came in second. The Congress retains third position here.

Devatalab is another constituency where the competition is usually between the BJP and BSP. Though this seat has been held by the BJP since 1998 and BSP has retained second position, the Devatalab seat was won by the BSP in 1990 and 1993. The Congress last won this seat in 1985.

The BJP has emerged victorious in five out seven elections in Muraina. The BSP beat the Congress here. While the Congress last won this seat in 1993, the BSP emerged victorious in 2008. In 2013, the BSP lost to BJP by a mere 1,704 votes. It received 55,040 votes. In 2003 too, the BSP came in second.

The Congress last won the Tyonthar seat in 1990, whereas the BSP won this seat in 2008. From 1998 t0 2008, the BSP consistently received more votes than the Congress here. In 2013, however, the Congress was successful in obtaining approximately 10,000 more votes than the BSP did.

The rural Gwalior seat was established in 2008 and was won by the BSP’s Madan Kushwaha. This constituency has more than 40,000 Kushwaha voters. In 2013, the BJP too gave its ticket to a Kushwaha candidate and stole the seat from the BSP. The Congress came in second, having acquired almost 20,000 more votes that the BSP. Since this constituency lies within Scindia’s sphere of influence, Scindia probably hopes to win it. However, in the event of a coalition, the BSP could have obtained this seat by citing its past success in the constituency.

Kamal Nath, Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia and others. Credit: PTI/Files

The Congress last won the Sevadha seat in 1993 while the BSP won this seat for the first and last time in 2008. Currently, it is held by the BJP. The BSP could have acquired these six seats in the coalition.

Among the seats that would have been embroiled in the contestation is Jaura, which is currently held by the BJP. The BSP is considered stronger than the Congress here. It has won this seat three times in the past five elections (1993, 1998 and 2008). The Congress emerged victorious in 2003.

However, the Congress lost to the BJP in the last election by a mere difference of 1.71% votes and must be hopeful that during the wave of opposition against the government, it could successfully overcome this difference, especially since residents appear to be upset with the current MLA, Subedar Singh. In 2013, the Congress received 7% more votes than the BSP.

The Sirmour seat is held by the BJP and was won by Divyaraj Singh, who defeated Congress candidate Vivek Tiwari, son of the ex-minister Shrinivas Tiwari. The BJP, Congress and BSP received 34.19%, 29.67% and 19.69% votes, respectively.

In the previous election, BSP candidate Rajkumar Urmalia won this seat by defeating Shrinivas Tiwari. In 2003, the CPI(M) won this seat and the BSP came in second. The Congress last won this seat in 1998.

On the surface, the BSP seems to have a strong claim to this seat. However, in the event of a coalition, the Congress would have to deal with the fact that Vivek Tiwari, son of Shrinivas Tiwari, who lost the previous election by an ordinary margin, is hopeful of gaining a ticket to contest elections. Therefore, to give up this seat to the BSP would mean upsetting an important member of the party.

The Sabalgarh seat is currently held by the BJP. The Congress retained second position, and the BSP, by acquiring 14,000 less votes than the Congress, came in third. In 2008, the Congress won this seat whereas the BSP had won this seat in 1998. In 1993 and 2003, it remained in second position. Since 1993, both the Congress and BJP have won this seat twice, while the BSP has emerged victorious once.

The Sumavali seat, known for muscle power, was won by the BSP’s Aindal Singh Kansana in 1993 and 1998. In 2003, he joined the Congress and the BSP’s votes fell from 36% to 10%, leading it to fall to the fourth position.
However, even Aindal Singh was unable to win in 2003. In 2008, the Congress won this seat with Aindal Sigh. The BSP retained second position. In 2013, the BJP won by more than 14,000 votes and the BSP, despite getting 47,481 votes, came in second.

Both the Congress and BSP appear to be equally eligible to claim this seat. Were a coalition to arise, Aindal Singh could be the appointed candidate. However, the question persists: From whose side? Congress or BSP?
The Mehgaon seat has been held by the BJP since 2008. The BSP last won this seat in 1993. In 1998, the BSP came in third. In 2003, it fell to sixth position and obtained a mere 6.65% votes. In 2008 and 2013, it remained in fourth position.

On the other hand, the Congress last won this seat in 1990. In the past four elections, the BJP has won this seat thrice. Moreover, the Congress has consistently received more votes than the BSP. In 2013, the Congress lost by a mere difference of 0.91% votes.

At one point, the BSP was strong in the Gohad Vidhan Sabha. It won in 1993 and came in second in 1998. However, since 2003, it has come in third or obtained an even lower rank, and the competition has largely been between the Congress and BJP. Currently, this seat is held by the BJP, but it was won by the Congress in 2008.

Since 1998, BSP has won the Bander seat because of Dalit leader Phoolsingh Baraiya. Irrespective of which party he stands on behalf of or whether he contests elections independently, Baraiya holds sway over 15% votes. In 1998, the BSP received 41.87% votes.

In 2003, Baraiya contested elections independently and came in second. The BSP, on the other hand, slipped to fifth position with 10.44% votes. Though this seat has been held by the BJP for the past three Vidhan Sabha elections, the Congress has consistently acquired 1.5-2 times more votes than the BSP.

On the other hand, the BSP won Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s home district’s Ashoknagar seat in 1998. Since 1990, the BJP has held power over this seat. The Congress last tasted the flavour of victory here in 1985. However, in 2003, the competition was primarily between the BJP and Congress. In fact, in 2013, the Congress lost by a mere difference of 1.5% votes.

While the Congress got 41.20% votes, the BSP received only 11.49% votes. Therefore, in the event of a coalition, it would not be easy for the Congress to give this seat to the BSP. In any case, since Scindia is on the rise in the state, he will want to retain this seat for the party.

Of the 18 seat won by the BSP, only nine (Raigaon, Rampur, Baghelan, Tyonthar, Devtalab, Mangawa, Muraina, Ambah, Sevadha and Gwalior-rural) could have been given to the BSP by the Congress without disagreement. Nine seats would be subject to contestation and in coalitions, such contestations are usually resolved through a 50-50 formula.

Were the Congress to even concede five out of the nine seats to the BSP, the BSP would have 14 seats to contest. The Maharajpur seat would go to the BSP without any opposition. Thus, the BSP would hold a total of 15 seats.

Under no circumstances would the Congress be able to give more than 15 seats to the BSP. Neither would it risk toying with seats held by its own MLAs, nor would it give up seats from constituencies where the Congress has consistently performed better than the BSP.

BSP supremo Mayawati. Credit: PTI/Files

Therefore, regarding the failure of the coalition in Madhya Pradesh, Congress leader Kamal Nath has accused Mayawati of demanding seats of constituencies where the BSP could not garner a victory. He said, “There is no possibility of the BSP’s victory over the seats demanded by it. The BSP is demanding 45 seats.”

He added, “For us, it is not a matter of numbers. We were considering seats of constituencies where the BSP could defeat the BJP. It is meaningless to consider merely numbers if they cannot defeat the BJP. That would be like gifting seats to the BJP.”

Yes, it is true that the BSP’s not vying for certain seats could prove favourable for the Congress. However, statistics from 2013 show that there are only 40 seats that could have been won had the two jointly defeated the BJP.

Of those 40 seats, we have accounted for 17 above. Contestation for these seats between the Congress and BJP has been discussed. Therefore, the Congress would only benefit from the BSP’s not contesting election with regard to 23 seats. In return, if the Congress were to let BSP, a party capable of claiming only 10 seats without dispute, contest elections for 30-45 seats and acquire 20-35 seats, it would only set itself up for loss.

Moreover, currently, the upper castes of the state are upset with the BJP. The upper castes are leading a protest against the government. The Congress would be an option for the upper castes upset with the BJP. However, it is possible that the upper castes would reject the Congress in the event of a coalition with the BSP, since the state’s upper castes don’t view the BSP favourably. Therefore, this would only lead to further losses for the Congress.

It is for this reason that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been seen stating that BSP’s inclusion in the coalition is of no consequence to the Congress.

On the other hand, were one to look at this from the BSP’s point of view, it would be clear that a party accustomed to contest in 230 seats would not be satisfied by gaining merely 15-20 seats. To do so would be to risk their very existence in the state. Furthermore, one can also consider the perspective that having formed a coalition with Ajit Jogi’s party, the BSP obtained 35 seats in the 90-seat Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha.

On the other hand, just as experts are of the opinion that had the Congress and BSP formed a coalition in 2013, the current picture of majority and opposition would be reversed, so this too is illogical because in the 116-seat majority Vidhan Sabha, the Congress obtained 58 seats and the BSP obtained four. Had the coalition taken place, the profit would have amounted to a mere 40 seats and the total would be 102.

Deepak Goswami is an independent journalist.

Translated from the Hindi original by Karan Dhingra. You can read the Hindi version here.