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Is Congress Wooing SP-BSP in Maharashtra With an Eye on Alliance in Uttar Pradesh?

If the plan works, the fragmented Dalit votes, particularly in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, will help Congress gain foothold in the region.

Vinaya Deshpande | CNN-News18

Updated:March 10, 2019, 12:11 AM IST
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Is Congress Wooing SP-BSP in Maharashtra With an Eye on Alliance in Uttar Pradesh?
(From left) File photo of Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
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Mumbai: The senior leaders of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party are meeting in South Mumbai to discuss elaborately about allotting seats to the BSP-SP combine in Maharashtra.

What the leaders have in mind is not just wooing the Dalit and Muslim votes in the state, but also safeguarding the Congress' interests in Uttar Pradesh. If the move works, the fragmented Dalit votes, particularly in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, will help Congress gain foothold in the region.

In the 2009 elections, BSP candidates had got over a lakh of votes, but could not win seats. They proved to be vote cutters, which ultimately benefited BJP.

"We are considering giving three seats to the BSP-SP. Two will be given to the BSP and one to the SP. But they may not be given the seats they want, as those are our strong seats. We may give some seats which are not strong for us, and which are unwanted," a senior Congress leader told CNN-News18.

The BSP has expressed strong desire to fight the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra. Earlier this month, BSP leader Vir Singh declared that the party hoped to win at least 15 seats in Maharashtra. It doesn't have a single seat in the state now.

Dalit votes in Maharashtra are fragmented, but are led by small leaders with no vision for the community's development. This has been used to their advantage by big political parties. The Dalit factions till now have aligned with the ruling parties for benefits like cabinet positions.

Currently, RPI (A) leader Ramdas Athawale is a Union Minister in the BJP-led government.

The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi is to be watched for in Maharashtra. Not only has Prakash Ambedkar pitched himself as an alternative to both the Congress and the BJP, he has also claimed to unify the SCs, STs, OBCs, Muslims under an umbrella, with the support of AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi.

Though the BSP hasn't yet opened its account in Maharashtra, it had got substantial votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. That had been a disaster for Congress, and a boon for the BJP in Vidarbha. But if the Congress offers BSP seats in Vidarbha, the BJP will have to put in lot of efforts in the area. Nana Patole, who was a strong BJP face in Vidarbha, is with Congress now. Even that will pinch the BJP.

But a senior BJP leader and cabinet minister told CNN-News18 that the BJP was fully prepared for the Lok Sabha polls and that it will emerge as a strong force in Vidarbha.
| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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