The BJP intends to counter the impact of a possible alliance between the Congress and the Dalit powerhouse Mayawati's party with an intensive outreach to Madhya Pradesh's dalit community led by 65,000 party leaders, one in each polling booth. The BJP calls them Dalit 'caste in-charge' or 'Jaati Prabhari' and has tasked its scheduled caste unit to set the mechanism in place.
Suraj Singh Kairo, who heads the party's scheduled caste unit in Madhya Pradesh, said the effort was to give representation to all sections at the booth level. "Our workers will try to mobilise support from every household in the particular booth. This is definitely going to benefit our party," Mr Kairo told NDTV.
The BJP has ruled Madhya Pradesh for nearly 14 straight years. But its determined effort to return to power in assembly elections later this year might be a lot more difficult than earlier if the Congress and the BSP join hands.
Dalits make up for over 15 per cent of the state's population.
The BJP's effort to touch base with Dalit voters is an attempt to neutralise any impact that the opposition alliance might have.
Already, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP is seen to be reaching out to the Dalits after Madhya Pradesh saw one of its worst episodes of violence in the countrywide Dalit agitation in April, killing five people in the state.
The ruling BJP, however, isn't the only one going by the caste headcount.
The Congress is also prepping a caste data base of its aspiring candidates.
A four-page application form that aspiring Congress candidates have to fill requires them to report their caste details too. Women Congress workers also have been asked to fill in details of their caste and sub-caste in the forms.
Congress leaders say the database would not just be useful for allotting party tickets but also plan the party's campaign.
"We should have the details and be ready with the data, which is useful at the time of ticket distribution as we will have an idea about the strength of our workers from a particular caste in a particular area," said Mandvi Chauhan who heads the women's wing of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh.
Congress spokesperson Manak Aggarwal said, "We are collecting the caste data so that we can mobilise party workers from a particular community."
A Congress-BSP alliance in Madhya Pradesh is expected to spell trouble for the BJP especially in Vindhya, Chambal and Bundelkhand regions. But there have been hints from the BSP in recent weeks that it may not work out if the Congress doesn't give the party a respectable number of seats in Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath clearly hasn't given up. "Obviously, our effort will be to have an alliance," Kamal Nath told NDTV, pointing that the negotiations were on. "We have got to practice the art of the feasible," he said.
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