- Kamal Nath has won nine Lok Sabha elections from Chhindwara
- Mayawati had demanded 50 seats, Congress offered 30
- BSP has ruled out a tie-up with Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
Congress leader Kamal Nath's long-time parliamentary base Chhindwara was not spared as Mayawati handed the list of seats she wanted to contest in the November 28 elections in Madhya Pradesh. She wouldn't budge, neither would the Congress, which sent their alliance talks crashing.
"The number of seats and the type of seats they wanted didn't come to a winning combination," Kamal Nath, 72, said on NDTV's The Countdown. The Congress had offered Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party 25, even 30 of the state's 230 seats if they could defeat the BJP in those, he said. Mayawati had demanded 50 seats.
Mayawati demanded a seat in Chhindwara, from where Kamal Nath has won nine Lok Sabha elections.
Analysis of data, including from the 2013 polls, indicates a tie-up with Mayawati would have upped the Congress's tally by 40-50 seats. Kamal Nath underplayed that assessment, calling it a "very theoretical calculation".
He said the seats Mayawati had insisted on would have meant practically gifting them to the ruling BJP, which is fighting to stay in power for a fourth straight term.
"They wanted a seat in Chhindwara, one in Indore. These are seats where they would have got no more than 1,000 votes. Obviously. Why they wanted it, we don't know," Kamal Nath said.
The former union minister, appointed the state Congress chief in April, is focusing on the regions dominated by Scheduled Caste voters, where data shows Congress doing slightly better over the years. But these are areas where both the Congress and Mayawati are fighting for the same vote-base.
In the final weeks of the campaign, the former union minister is cutting through towns in his white SUV, in a white kurta, addressing crowds to chants of "Jai Jai Kamal Nath".
The Congress campaign has been afflicted by reports or infighting among its perceived chief ministerial candidates; it is an embarrassment of riches.
"There is perfect harmony and no infighting. Everybody's stakes are the same. There is naturally...it happens in every family -- somebody is closer to the other. That happens in every party, it happens in our party."
The results of polls in Madhya Pradesh and three more states will be declared on December 11.