Amid reports of the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party going for a pre-poll alliance for the Rajasthan Assembly elections, there is discontent among Dalit leaders of the grand old party. The discontent among the Congress leaders has come to the fore even before a formal announcement on the alliance between the two parties.
Several disgruntled leaders have taken up the issue with former chief minister and veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who was recently in Rajasthan for three days. Though Gehlot assured the Dalit leaders that they would have adequate representation in ticket distribution, but they did not seem satisfied with the assurance.
In Rajasthan, 59 seats are reserved for SC and ST category candidates while there are at least 20 seats, which has a considerable base of Dalit votebank.
The leaders who are disgruntled with the development are those who had assumed that they would certainly be given tickets from Dalit-dominated constituencies. Among the prominent names are Shankar Pannu, Parasram Moradiya, Master Bhanwarlal, Hanuman Prasad, Bharat Ram Meghwal, former IPS officer Vijendra Jhala, Ramesh Meena, Bhajanlal Jatav, Mahendrajeet Malviya and Babulal Nagar. The Congress leaders believe that the party is in a strong position in Rajasthan and does not require an alliance with the BSP to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In the 2008 Rajasthan Assembly elections, the BSP had contested on more than 50 seats, but had won just six of them. While the Congress initially formed the government in the state with their support, they later ditched the BSP to join the then ruling party.
Though the BSP is not in a comfortable situation in the state, the party is still demanding at least 25 seats. The Congress, however, does not want to give more than 10 seats to Mayawati’s BSP. It is yet to be seen how the parties tackle the situation ahead of finalising the seat-sharing formula for the Rajasthan Assembly elections.