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HomePolitical PulseClaiming plan to field 40 faces in Chhattisgarh fray, SP turns heat...

Claiming plan to field 40 faces in Chhattisgarh fray, SP turns heat on Congress for 2024 UP seats

Despite being a member of the Opposition alliance INDIA, the Samajwadi Party (SP) is likely to contest several seats in the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh in the upcoming Assembly elections with the avowed objective to expand its footprint nationally. The Congress is a key constituent of the 28-member INDIA bloc.

According to sources in the SP’s Chhattisgarh unit, the party is mulling over the proposal to contest as many as 40 seats out of the state’s total 90 Assembly seats. This is however not the only state where the SP would square off with the Congress, with the party declaring that it would also contest the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, which along with Chhattisgarh are due for polls this year-end.

The Congress is the principal Opposition in Madhya Pradesh, looking to pose a stiff challenge to the incumbent BJP in the elections.

The INDIA alliance has been forged by the Opposition parties to take on the ruling BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Sources said the SP is considering fielding its candidates from a number of seats in Chhattisgarh and MP in a bid to drive a hard bargain for the Uttar Pradesh seat-sharing in the Lok Sabha elections. The SP is the principal Opposition in the BJP-ruled UP.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav has already announced candidates for two

Scheduled Tribes (STs)-reserved seats, Dhauhani and Chitrangi, in Sidhi district in Madhya Pradesh’s Vindhya region, which is adjoining UP.

As part of the SP’s plan for contesting Chhattisgarh seats, Akhilesh is scheduled to visit the state on September 25 and discuss with the state party leadership their strategy for the Assembly polls.

“Our national president is coming to Raipur on September 25, and we have made all preparations to hold a grand welcome for him and to hold a small roadshow and some public meetings too,” said a Chhattisgarh SP leader.

In the 2018 Chhattisgarh polls, the SP had fielded candidates in 10 constituencies, but lost from all the seats.

Chhattisgarh SP president Naveen Gupta claimed the party was planning to contest 40 seats in the state. “We have an alliance with the Congress (INDIA bloc) and that is for Lok Sabha polls. For state polls, our party is likely to field 40 candidates,” said Gupta.

Asked if this would have an impact on the relationship between the two INDIA allies, Gupta said, “That is up to the party top leadership to decide.”

SP national spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary said the party would field its candidates in Chhattisgarh after holding talks with the Congress. “We will field candidates there (Chhattisgarh) because we have a claim there too. But we will hold talks before doing anything. Also, any decision that will be taken on Chhattisgarh will be done keeping in mind the (INDIA) alliance,” he said.

Sources in both parties also said that when Akhilesh visits Chhattisgarh, he would meet Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. An SP leader said it has been communicated to CM Baghel about Akhilesh’s proposal to meet him during his Raipur visit. “Whether he (Baghel) meets or not is up to him, but we have informed his office,” said the SP leader.

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The outcome of the recent Assembly bypoll in Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar had led to some tension in the relationship between the Congress and the SP. The Congress’s UP unit blamed the SP for the loss of the party’s Bageshwar candidate to the BJP in a close fight. It charged the SP with not following the “gathbandhan (alliance) dharma” in contrast to its gesture in the case of the Ghosi bypoll in UP, where the SP trounced the BJP.

On its part, the SP maintained that while they asked for support in Ghosi, the Congress “never did so as per rajnaitik shishtachar (political decorum)”.

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A UP Congress leader said the SP should not harm the grand old party in states where “it knows it will not gain anything”. “They (SP) don’t have any footprint in Chhattisgarh, and now they want to contest seats there. Let’s see what happens. Akhileshji will meet the CM there and I think they may decide not to contest so many seats,” said the leader.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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