Cong. says Mayawati’s meet with Janata Congress leader Jogi was a ‘courtesy call’

Last week’s meeting between Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati and former Congress leader Ajit Jogi was at best a courtesy call; ‘theoretically’ the alliance between Congress and BSP is still possible, Leader of the Opposition in Chattisgarh, T.S. Singh Deo said.

Ms. Mayawati had visited the ailing leader last Wednesday. Mr Jogi has floated his own party — the Janata Congress — giving the Congress reasons to worry as it looks for allies ahead of crucial Assembly and Parliament elections.

“They have known each other for a long time and have been in touch. So I think it is a courtesy call. I doubt whether the BSP would decide to ally with Mr. Ajit Jogi’s party,” Mr. Deo told The Hindu.

He said “theoretically” there could be an alliance between the BSP and Congress in the State. “At a time when all the Opposition parties are talking about building a larger alliance at the national level, there is definitely a scope for alliance between BSP and Congress in the State too. However, at this moment there has been no formal talks between the two parties,” he said.

‘Committed votebank’

Mr. Deo said that even if the BSP and Janata Congress were to come together, the Congress’ own electoral fortunes will not be affected. “BSP has a committed votebank. Their voters do not vote for Congress or BJP so it doesn’t affect us. And if at all, it will impact BJP more than us, because they won nine out of 10 reserved constituencies,” he added.

The Congress is hopeful of trouncing Chief Minister Raman Singh, who has won three consecutive terms, in the Assembly polls later this year. The difference in voteshare between the two parties in the 2013 Assembly elections was merely 0.7%.

An alliance with BSP is crucial for the Congress to bridge the narrow gap. The party has already initiated informal talks with the Communist Party of India, which got over 86,000 votes.

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