Will Ajit Jogi Alliance with BSP hurt Congress in Chhattisgarh?

Ajit Jogi joined hands with BSP
Ajit Jogi joined hands with BSP
Ajit Jogi joined hands with BSP

The answer is yes. After three consecutive terms, the Raman Singh-led BJP government in Chhattisgarh is facing anti-incumbency, and 2018 assembly elections present Congress the best chance of staging a comeback in the state.

The Congress was banking on an alliance with Mayawati’s BSP and was confident of breaking BJP’s stranglehold in the state this year. Ex-CM and ex-party member of the Congress, Ajit Jogi, has pulled out a party spoiler by beating his former party in stitching up a tie-up between his Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) and Mayawati’s BSP.

Congress has been stung by the development but not surprised, as Mayawati has been playing hardball for a larger share of tickets in the forthcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh. The development in Chhattisgarh must be viewed in the context of the larger game in play.

Rahul Gandhi-led Congress has been trying to put together the Mahagathbandhan, a loose grouping of politically diverse parties, to take on the BJP in the 2019 general elections. Mayawati’s BSP was to be an important part of this grand alliance. With U.P, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan going in for assembly elections in 2018, it is expected to be a launching pad for the Mahagathbandhan in the final fight in 2019 against the BJP.

However, Akhilesh Singh-led Samajwadi Party decided to join hands with Mayawati’s BSP for taking on BJP in U.P. This has upset Congress’s plans of a strong Mahagathbandhan in the state, in the run-up to general elections in the state.

Mayawati’s abandoning the Mahagathbandhan in favour of SP in U.P was the first indicator that she was willing to stake her political future with SP rather than the Congress. Her tie-up with Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh has been a disappointment but not a surprise for the Congress. It had hoped an alliance with BSP in Chhattisgarh would politically isolate Jogi and step up its chances against the well-entrenched BJP.

But now it has a two-pronged fight to contend with – the JCC-BSP alliance and the BJP. Jogi’s tie-up has indirectly helped the BJP by weakening the Congress party. Congress has slammed the JCC-BSP alliance as a BJP-sponsored move against it.

Although BJP is sounding confident of holding office for the fourth consecutive term, anti-incumbency could well bring in lower-than-expected seats in the assembly elections. In such a scenario, Ajit Jogi could well emerge as the kingmaker. It will likely have a positive impact on Mayawati too, as it will place her in a stronger position to negotiate with the BJP to ease off the heat she is facing from CBI and ED.

Chhattisgarh will hold Assembly elections for 90 seats in two phases – November 12 and November 20. 421 candidates have filed their nominations to fight for 18 seats in the first phase.

Assembly election results comparison 2013 and 2008

Year: 2013

  • Total seats: 90
  • Type of Constituencies: General: 50; SC: 10; ST: 29
  • Total contestants: 986
  • Total electors: 16,895,762
  • Male electors: 8,586,556
  • Female electors: 8,308,557
  • Polling percentage: 77.12%

Party-wise seat share:

  • BJP: 49 seats
  • INC: 38 seats
  • BSP: 1 seat
  • Others: 1