The togetherness of the INDIA bloc has acquired a question mark against it, with the Congress and Samajwadi Party fielding candidates against each other on 18 seats in Madhya Pradesh. State Congress chief Kamal Nath said while the focus of the Opposition alliance is on the Lok Sabha elections, it would have been good if the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election could have been a contested as a bloc.
The Congress released the first list of 144 candidates on the first day of Navratri at the "auspicious hour" of 9.09 am. But it appeared that the Samajwadi Party present found it inauspicious, because it waited another 8 hours to release the names of its candidates.
Both Congress and the Samajwadi Party have fielded candidates on five seats -- Bhander (Scheduled Caste seat), Rajnagar, Bijawar, Chitrangi (Scheduled Caste) ST and Katangi. Late this evening, the SP announced another 22 candidates, of whom 13 were pitted against the Congress from various seats.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said, "The Congress should decide whether they want an alliance at the state level or national level. If they don't want an alliance at the state level, then in future there will be no alliance on state level".
Kamal Nath said talks are still on with the SP and Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party at the Centre. "We want the SP to help us defeat the BJP. I thank Akhilesh Yadav, as he aims to defeat the BJP. He told this to me personally".
The "local situation" in Madhya Pradesh, he added, is proving a challenge.
"There are practical glitches due to local situations. Our candidates aren't ready to fight on the SP poll symbol, even if the SP says it is ready to field our candidates on its symbol. In such a situation, what shall we do? These are practical aspects on the ground," he said.
In 2018, the SP had won one seat (Bijawar in Bundelkhand region) and finished second on five other seats, securing 1.30 per cent votes in alliance with tribal centric Gondwana Gantantra Party.
The party's vote share in alliance with the GGP was even less than the Independents, who got 5.82 per cent votes.
SP's only MLA Rajesh Shukla defeated the BJP candidate by over 36,000 votes. The Congress was a distant third on that seat. Mr Shukla, however, joined the BJP before the 2022 Presidential polls.
The five SP candidates, who finished second in 2018 polls, included Dr Shishupal Yadav (Prithvipur), ex-MLA Meera Deepak Yadav (Niwari), ex-MLA Kankar Munjare (Paraswada) his wife Anubha Munjare (Balaghat) and Kapidwaj Singh (Gurh).
This time, the entry of AAP in Madhya Pradesh will also change some equations.
AAP has some grassroot support – the party scored big in the civic elections and has a mayor, 52 councilors, 118 Sarpanches, 10 District Panchayats and 25 district members. Having received 6 per cent votes in the civic elections, it can make a dent in the votes of Congress-BJP on at least 51 seats.
While the main contest will be between the BJP and the Congress, this time, the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest on 230 seats, due to which competition will be tough on at least 100 seats.
The GGP has its base in tribal regions like Mahakaushal and Baghelkhand, whereas the BSP's voter base is good in Gwalior-Chambal, Bundelkhand and Vindhya.
The BSP is contesting on 178 seats and GGP on 52 seats. In 2018, the BSP got more than 30,000 votes on 18 seats, while the GGP got more than 30,000 votes on six seats.
Last time, the BSP got about 5 per cent votes. The results were affected due to BSP in 28 seats. The GGP had got around 2 per cent votes, which affected the results on 9 seats.
Last time, the BSP had won on two seats and was second on 6 seats.
GGP was second on two seats.
There are 21 per cent tribal and 15 per cent Dalit voters in the state.
This alliance on 82 reserved seats can tweak the equation for the BJP and the Congress.
In the last elections, BJP got 41.02 per cent votes and the Congress 40.89 per cent votes.