Three key constituents of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) have begun talks for an electoral alliance in the Madhya Pradesh assembly, the leaders of these parties said.
If the seat sharing works out, it would be the first electoral alliance of the INDIA bloc for state assembly polls scheduled for November this year.
According to the people familiar with the matter, the Congress is in talks with the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Left parties for the alliance. Whereas, another constituent of the INDIA bloc, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is keen to contest all 230 seats in the state assembly on its own, said the people.
“Yes, talks for seat sharing with the Samajwadi Party and the Left parties have started,” said a senior Congress leader aware of the developments. The development was also confirmed by the SP and Left party leaders.
“I spoke to senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh recently in regard to the possibility of the INDIA alliance contesting the state assembly elections. We will take some time to arrive at any conclusion,” said Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M] state secretary Jaswinder Singh.
A Samajwadi Party leader, who didn’t wish to be named, said, that informal talks are going on among local SP leaders and Congress.
“Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh Congress committee president) ji is willing to go ahead with an alliance but is waiting for a response from the Congress’s central leadership,” he said.
The INDIA alliance was formed almost two months ago by 26 political parties opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Madhya Pradesh is among the five states which are slated to see legislative assembly elections this year.
The BJP had been in power in MP for 20 years except for 18 months when Kamal Nath took office as the chief minister in December 2018. The BJP dislodged him from power when 22 lawmakers from the Congress, including half a dozen ministers switched over to the former.
In 2018, the Congress got 114 seats and 40.89% votes, whereas the BJP with 41.02% votes won 109 seats. Samajwadi Party won one seat and got 1.30% votes while Left parties had a vote share of about 1%.
This time, the Congress is keen to turn the contest bipolar in most assembly constituencies to surge ahead of the BJP in vote share and pass a majority mark of 116. “We will not like anti-incumbency votes to divide,” said the senior Congress leader quoted above.
CPM’s Singh said the Congress has taken the initiative for an alliance as they are keen on “not to divide anti-incumbency votes”. “The things are likely to shape up in the next fortnight,” he added.
SP state unit president Ramayan Singh Patel said he would like to see the contest between the INDIA bloc and the “corrupt BJP” government in Madhya Pradesh. “The final call will be taken by our national president Akhilesh Yadav ji,” he added.
Digvijaya Singh, who is said to be anchoring the alliance talks, couldn’t be reached for his comments. He didn’t answer the phone call or respond to a text message.
MP Congress media in-charge KK Mishra said, “We are not authorised to make any comment on the alliance issue.”
However, the AAP is not very keen on an alliance for the assembly polls.
Speaking on the development, AAP state spokesperson Ramakant Patel said, “No talk has taken place between the AAP and the Congress or any other party. We are preparing to contest from all the 230 seats. We can’t say what is the decision of the central leadership of the party (regarding the alliance).”
In July 2022, the AAP tasted success in MP when its candidate Rani Agrawal won the election for Singrauli Mayor.
The party’s candidates also received a fair number of votes in urban areas in the Gwalior, Indore and Bhopal municipal elections.
Political analyst Dinesh Gupta said, “Alliance would matter for any side if there is a neck-to-neck contest, as we had witnessed in the 2018 elections. If a few per cent votes are added to any alliance in such a situation, it could make a huge impact on the final results.”