1,300 independents join poll fray in Madhya Pradesh

November 22nd, 2008 - 11:46 am ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyBhopal, Nov 22 (IANS) Though independent legislators hardly influence Madhya Pradesh politics, more than 1,300 independent candidates have entered the fray in the expectation of a fractured mandate in the Nov 27 assembly elections.With independents and ambitious regional players like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Uma Bharati’s Bharatiya Jan Shakti (BJS) Party joining the poll battle, the state is agog with speculations of a hung assembly.

Though the two chief rival parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, deny any such possibility, political pundits say there is a possibility that no single party would hit the magic figure of 116 in the 230-member assembly.

“With many players this time, there are strong chances that no party gets a simple majority to form the government on its own; in which case the independents will play the king-makers,” says political analyst Girija Shanker in Bhopal.

In the event of a hung assembly, the independents can join hands with any of the regional or national parties, not to speak of other small players like the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) and the Samanata Party.

Independents have played a crucial role in government formation in Madhya Pradesh once before, in 1969, when the Congress had split. Independent legislators helped Govind Narain Singh to form a government.

Earlier, after the 1962 poll, the assembly had 39 independent legislators. Their decline started in the 1990s.

The outgoing assembly has only two independent legislators, though all the independent contestants put together garnered 7.7 percent of the votes polled, followed by the BSP with 7.26 percent, and the Samajwadi Party, with 3.71 percent.

While the Congress and the BJP are contesting 228 seats each, the BSP has fielded candidates in all the 230 constituencies, the Samajwadi Party 225 seats and the BJS 215 seats.

“If the Congress faces the threat of the BSP cutting into its vote share, the BJP is up for a similar situation from the BJS, which accentuates the possibility of no single party getting an absolute majority”, says Vijay Tiwari, 62, a resident of Bhopal and a keen political observer.

Tiwari feels that the Congress is in a worse situation than the BJP if it comes to government formation in a hung assembly.

“The BJP has the option of going with the BSP or even with Uma Bharati’s BJS, but there is little possibility of the Congress going with either. Its relations with the BSP are very bitter, while Bharati’s party has a Hindutva agenda,” he said.

Congress sources say in such an eventuality if the party gets an edge, it can garner support of the independents.

Spokesmen for both the BJP and the Congress maintain that the two-party system will continue in the state, leaving no room for independents, though they agree regional parties have their nuisance value.

“Since several regional parties had come up in Madhya Pradesh, the voters had their choice either to go for national parties or them, but not independents,” says State Congress spokesman Manak Agarwal.

BJP spokesperson Archana Chitnis concurs. “With regional parties around, every voter would have a choice of a party and independents would be the last priority,” she says.

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