The alliance between Ajit Jogi's party and the BSP will hurt the BJP, which is under the "illusion" that the tie-up will hamper the Congress's prospects in the upcoming Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel said Sunday.
Baghel, who is seen as one of the contenders for the chief minister's post, along with other senior party leaders like TS Singhdeo and Charandas Mahant if the Congress comes to power in the BJP-ruled state, asserted that currently, there were no claimants for the top post and the matter would be decided only after the polls.
"There are no claimants (for the CM's post) and we will fight the election under a collective leadership. It is only after the polls that the legislative party and the party high-command will decide who will be the chief minister. This is not a contentious matter," he told PTI in a telephonic interview from Raipur.
The Congress is seeking to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been governing the state since 2003, from power this time.
Asked if the alliance between the Ajit Jogi-led Janta Congress Chhattisgarh and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) would cut into the Congress's vote share, Baghel said, "No, because the BSP has just about 4 per cent vote share and Jogi's vote base is also the same as that of the BSP. So, I do not think it (the alliance) will make a big difference."
He claimed that the Jogi-BSP tie-up would harm the BJP and not the Congress.
Elaborating on his point, the state Congress chief said of the seats reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC) category, the Congress had won just one in the 2013 Assembly polls, while the BJP had emerged victorious on nine.
"Their (Jogi-Mayawati's) support base comprises mostly members of the SC community. So, even if they get a few seats, which looks unlikely, it is the BJP's tally that will come down," Baghel added.
On BJP leader Saroj Pandey's remarks that the Jogi-BSP alliance will hurt the Congress more in Chhattisgarh, he said the saffron camp was under the "illusion" that the tie-up will affect the opposition party.
"That is why they (the BJP) got the alliance done. Alone, Jogi was unable to harm the Congress, so the BSP was also tagged along with him. The Jogi factor will not work," Baghel added.
On why the Congress failed to stitch-up alliances in the state, he said, "As far as the BSP is concerned, talks were on and suddenly, we got to know that they had aligned with Jogi's party."
Baghel added that talks with the Gondwana Gantantra Party failed as the Congress offered two seats to the tribal outfit, but with a one-per cent vote share, it was asking for five-six seats.
Asked if not projecting a chief ministerial face could hamper the party's chances in the upcoming polls, he pointed out that the BJP had fought the 2003 state election without projecting a chief ministerial candidate and the name of Raman Singh was announced for the top post only after the polls.
There were very few instances when the Congress had announced a chief ministerial face beforehand, Baghel said.
Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2018: Two-phase polling on November 12, 20; vote counting on December 11
Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2018: Congress announces first list of 12 candidates for 1st phase of polls
On whether the issue of chief ministership would breed ambition and factionalism within the party ranks, he said, "These days, even seers have ambitions of becoming chief minister. We are not even seers, we are in politics. So, we aspire for a political position, but we are not so ambitious that we will cross the party's boundaries. All the leaders are working unitedly."
Asked about the BJP's "Mission 65", Baghel said the Congress was focussed on all the 90 Assembly seats in the state and it was confident of securing a clear majority.
Taking a jibe at the BJP, he said in Gujarat also the saffron party had set a "Mission 150" target, but ended up with 99 seats.
The state Congress chief has been embroiled in a controversy over his alleged involvement in a fake sex CD case.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had last month filed a chargesheet, naming Baghel and some others as accused in the case related to a controversial CD allegedly featuring a state minister, who had rejected it as fake.
The BJP has used the issue to target the Congress, while Baghel has claimed innocence and described it as a political attack.
Asked about the case, the Congress leader dismissed it as a "conspiracy" of the BJP.
The Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh will be held in two phases. In the first phase, 18 seats in the Naxalism-hit areas will go to the polls on November 12.
The second phase of polling for the remaining 72 seats will be held on November 20 and the results will be announced on December 11.
Baghel will contest the polls from Patan.
In 2013, the BJP had formed the government in Chhattisgarh for the third consecutive time by winning 49 seats against the 39 of the Congress, but the opposition party had succeeded in narrowing the gap in terms of vote share.
It had grabbed 40.3 per cent votes, while the saffron party had garnered 41 per cent votes.