After making overtures to stitch an alliance in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the Congress has trained its guns to get BSP supremo Mayawati on board in Maharashtra for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections slated for 2019.
Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the second highest after 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh and for both, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, the state is important to increase their tally.
Currently, the BJP is busy sending signals for a patch-up with its ally Shiv Sena, which has decided to go solo. The Congress believes that joining hands with the BSP, NCP and other non-BJP forces will it to taken no the saffron brigade. Currently, the BSP neither has any representation in the LS from Maharashtra nor any member in the 288-member State Assembly.
The BSP with a following in Vidarbha and parts of Marathwada had gained 2.61 per cent vote share in the last Lok Sabha election and 2.33 per cent in the Assembly poll held in 2014. There are 10 Lok Sabha and 62 Assembly seats in Vidarbha, where the BJP currently has an upper hand. In Marathwada, there are eight Lok Sabha and 46 Assembly seats.
State NCP president Jayant Patil said, "An alliance with the BSP will be crucial to fight the BJP. It will add to vote share of a coalition. Joining hands with the BSP is important especially when there are various factions of Republican Party of India in the state." An NCP MP involved in the poll strategy hinted that his party is ready to spare few seats to the BSP.
State Congress party spokesperson Ratnakar Mahajan said the Congress will have to stich up a coalition in the present circumstances. "If Mayawati is ready to join the coalition she is welcome. Her joining will have some impact in Vidarbha and Marathwada. The Congress will have to accommodate several partners to avoid the division of secular votes in Maharashtra," he said.
Sources said that the Congress has already held initial talks with Mayawati. The Congress and NCP have jointly hinted at forming a pre-poll alliance for the Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls in Maharashtra. They are expected to arrive at a 24:24 seat-sharing adjustment. The Congress and NCP will leave few seats to like-minded parties, including the BSP from their respective seats.