The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Break-up aftershock for Uma

Bhopal, Aug. 27: The political developments in Uttar Pradesh have thrown a spanner in the BJP’s poll preparations in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh where it was banking on a tactical tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party for the November elections.

In the 1998 Assembly polls, the BSP was the third major force, getting over 11 per cent of the votes in a state where a margin of about 2 per cent separates the ruling Congress and the BJP.

But Uma Bharti, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, has more reasons to be worried after her party’s break-up with the BSP in Uttar Pradesh. There are over 16 per cent Dalit voters in Madhya Pradesh and the BSP’s renewed campaign against the BJP could rob her of some of the support base she has been carefully nurturing.

Taking a cue from Uttar Pradesh, the state BSP has decided to oppose the BJP tooth and nail. “We always considered the BJP a hostile force. Now we will teach them a lesson in Madhya Pradesh,” its state chief Phool Singh said. From now on, Singh added, the BJP would be the BSP’s “enemy number one”.

According to chief minister Digvijay Singh, the BJP-BSP bad blood could give his party, the Congress, an edge in the coming polls. Moreover, he believes, if Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav succeeds in forming an alternative government in Lucknow with the help of the Congress, it would provide the two parties a platform from where they could go in for seat adjustments in Madhya Pradesh.

So far, both the Congress and the Samajwadi were ambivalent about a poll tie-up. At the Samajwadi’s recent national convention in Bhopal, Mulayam and party general secretary Amar Singh had kept grumbling about the Congress’ “big brother” attitude.

Samajwadi and Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh, however, yesterday talked about the possibility of seat adjustments, saying if there is an alliance in Uttar Pradesh, it would pave the way for a tie-up, both at the state and national levels. “We have a common agenda to keep communal forces at bay,” said Arif Masood, a Samajwadi national executive member from Madhya Pradesh.

State Congress spokesperson Lalit Srivastava said the need of the hour was to keep both the “casteist BSP and the communal BJP at bay”. The developments have come at a time when the Congress is making hectic poll preparations in Madhya Pradesh. On Monday, party bigwigs had gathered at Panchmarhi to prepare the poll manifesto. Sources said the process of finalising names of candidates has been put on hold keeping in mind the possibility of seat adjustments.

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