Sonia-Maya bonhomie leads to buzz about alliance in three states

After playing a pivotal role in formation of the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress government in Karnataka, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has started working on a strategy to play kingmaker in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where assembly elections are due by the year-end, those familiar with the matter said.

There was a buzz among BSP leaders in Lucknow that Mayawati might agree to the Congress offer for a pre-poll alliance in these three states after she shared the dais with Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav during HD Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony at Bengaluru.

“The bonhomie between Sonia Gandhi and Mayawati in Bengaluru might pave the way for an alliance in three states as well as the 2019 Lok Sabha election. ‘Behanji’ (Mayawati) will discuss the pre-poll alliance issue with senior party leaders here. She has also discussed poll strategy with leaders of the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh units in Delhi in the May first week,” a BSP leader said.

Mayawati, who arrived in Lucknow late Wednesday evening after the ceremony in Bengaluru, was likely to hold a meeting with her party leaders on Thursday, they added.

People familiar with the matter said Congress leaders had approached Mayawati for a pre-poll alliance in the three states, but she was yet to respond. The Congress leadership also wishes to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha election in alliance with the SP and the BSP in UP.

The sources said SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had agreed to the Congress proposal, but Mayawati stressing on an alliance between BSP- SP only for the 2019 polls.

“If the Congress joins the alliance, both the parties will have to contest the election under the Congress umbrella and Mayawati is not willing to do that,” the BSP leader said.

A BSP-Congress alliance can upset the BJP applecart in the three states. In the 2013 assembly election, the BSP won four seats in Madhya Pradesh and secured 6.29% votes. The Congress polled 36.38% votes and bagged 58 seats.

In Rajasthan, the BSP polled 3.37% votes and bagged three assembly seats. The Congress secured 33.07% votes and captured 21 seats. In Chattisgarh, the BSP polled 4.27% votes and won one seat. The Congress polled 40.43% votes and won 39 seats.

The Samajwadi Party has also decided to field its candidates in the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. Akhilesh Yadav has launched his party’s election campaign with public meetings in the Bundelkhand area of MP. Sources said the SP chief was working on an anti-BJP alliance and trying to be a bridge between the Congress and BSP leaders.

Meanwhile, Mayawati is likely to review the party’s preparedness for the 2019 Lok Sabha election and the strategy for the Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur assembly by-elections in the Thursday meeting.

The BSP has not fielded its candidate for either seat. Mayawati may announce her support to the SP-RLD candidates for both the seats to lend strength to the alliance, party sources said.

She had extended support to the Samajwadi Party (SP) candidates in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok sabha by-polls in March, leading to the BJP candidates’ defeat in both seats.