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All or none: BSP pushes Congress for 3-state tie-up

NEW DELHI: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is learnt to have asked Congress to accept a package deal for alliance in all election-bound states, a demand that may pose tricky questions to the AICC leadership.

Amid hectic negotiations over alliance for end-year elections in Madhya Pradesh + , Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Congress sources said BSP was keen that it be made a partner in all three states.

The indication is that the Dalit outfit would be averse to a “piecemeal” partnership in which Congress determines which state it needs to tie up with Mayawati for Dalit votes. As it boils down to a Congress-BSP pact in all or none of the poll-bound states, Congress managers said it required careful handling given that the party’s Rajasthan unit is not keen on a tie-up with BSP while MP and Chhattisgarh are.

Congress units in MP and Chhattisgarh acknowledge that consolidation of Dalit votes would help them tide over the vote difference that has enabled BJP to stay in power in the two states for 15 uninterrupted years. In contrast, Rajasthan has been a Congress hunting ground where it has alternated in power with BJP in every election. The state unit is confident that 2018 is its turn to return to power.

Insiders estimate that Congress won’t allow BSP’s demand for seats in Rajasthan to come in the way for a partnership with it in MP and Chhattisgarh. Sources said Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot has not refused a tie-up with BSP but only underlined the political realities of the state. “If the central leadership feels a pact is required in the larger interest of the party, then it can go ahead in Rajasthan too,” a senior Congress leader said.
According to sources, at a stock-taking meeting of the three poll-bound states last week, the issue of alliance was discussed. It is believed that Congress, in the event it heeds BSP’s insistence on a “package deal”, should spare fewer seats for the latter in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh than in MP.

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