Shivraj hits out at INDIA bloc after Akhilesh accuses Congress of betrayal

M.P. CM calls INDIA bloc a ‘mismatched’ coalition of parties that came together fearing PM Modi’s popularity

Updated - October 21, 2023 07:56 am IST

Published - October 21, 2023 04:35 am IST - Bhopal

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. File

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. File | Photo Credit: A.M. Faruqui

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on October 20 advised voters of the poll-bound State to be wary of the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), all constituents of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a day after SP president Akhilesh Yadav accused the Congress of betraying his party over seat-sharing arrangements in M.P.

Mr. Chouhan, addressing a public rally in Vidisha district’s Sironj Assembly segment, took potshots at the INDIA bloc and said that these parties are projecting their unity at the national level but are fighting in States. “Dilli me dosti aur Madhya Pradesh me kushti chal rahi hai [Friendship in Delhi but wrestling is going on in Madhya Pradesh],” he said.

The remarks came after Mr. Yadav on Thursday said that Congress should not have invited the SP for talks if it had decided to go it alone in the State. The Congress has declared its candidates for 229 out of 230 seats in the State, putting an end to speculations of a possible alliance with the SP.

“Former M.P. CMs [Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh] called the meeting. We spoke to them about our electoral performances from previous elections,” the SP leader had said, adding that the talks went on till 1 a.m. and ended with an assurance from the Congress that they will consider six seats for the Uttar Pradesh based party.

“When the Congress list came, we got nothing! If I knew from day one that the electoral understanding of the INDIA bloc does not extend to the Assembly elections, our party leaders would not have met them. Neither would we have shared the list of seats we were looking for nor would we have picked up the phone [to hold talks],” Mr. Yadav told reporters, adding that the Congress would be treated the same way in U.P.

“If I knew that the Congress would cheat, I would not have trusted their words,” he said.

The ruling BJP in M.P. has now picked up this issue to claim that INDIA is a “bemeil gathbandhan [mismatched coalition of parties] formed out of fear of [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s popularity”.

Mr. Chouhan said, “The kind of words he [Mr. Yadav] has used [for Congress] show his mental condition and how the Congress has cheated him. The Congress, the SP, and the AAP are all contesting the elections separately. What kind of an alliance is it? When they are fighting among themselves today, what will be the State’s and nation’s future in their hands?”

Meanwhile, M.P. Congress president Kamal Nath did not respond to questions from reporters on Mr. Yadav’s comments. “Forget about Akhilesh,” he said in his home turf Chhindwara.

Mr. Yadav and other SP leaders had earlier publicly expressed their wish to enter into an alliance with the Congress for the M.P. election and had demanded at least six seats. The party, however, has now fielded its candidates in 33 seats of the State.

The SP is said to have a good hold in M.P.’s Bundelkhand region that borders U.P. It had allied with the Gondwana Gantantra Party for the 2018 Assembly election and won one seat in the region and was runner-up in five. The SP had won its best-ever tally of seven seats in the 2003 Assembly election.

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