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Alliance Talks: With OP Rajbhar in Oppn camp, BJP allies eye bigger seat share

Patel further said, “But the final decision will be taken when the leaders of both the parties will meet on the negotiation table. Whatever seats Apna Dal (S) will get in an alliance with the BJP, it will contest because the victory of the alliance for the government formation is most important.”

UP 2022 Assembly Polls: Before it could have coalesced, Rajbhar’s Morcha falls apartOm Prakash Rajbhar (File)

With Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) having severed ties with the BJP, the Anupriya Patel-led Apna Dal (Sonelal) is now hoping to get more seats to contest in alliance with the saffron party in the 2022 Assembly elections. The Nishad Party, another BJP ally, that often flexes its muscles also wants to contest a “respectable number of seats”, according to a party functionary.

Among the seats that both the junior allies of the ruling party are eyeing are the eight in which the SBSP fielded candidates in the 2017 Assembly polls. In that election, the Apna Dal(S), which has influence among Kurmi voters, contested 11 seats and won nine while the SBSP, which has influence in the Rajbhar community, bagged four.

To expand its footprint this time, Apna Dal (S) president Anupriya Patel is holding public meetings in areas beyond its stronghold in east UP. Patel, who is the Union Minister of State (Commerce and Industry) in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, has held rallies in Banda (Bundelkhand region); Ayodhya, Basti, and Kushinagar (in east UP). Later this month, she will address public meetings in Azamgarh (east UP), Pratapgarh (central UP), and Jhansi (Bundelkhand).

“The acceptance of the party has increased across all sections of people, including the OBCs, SCs, STs, and upper castes as well, in the past few years. We have expanded our organisations and won in panchayat elections too. Now, we are ready to contest 200 Assembly seats,” the party’s spokesperson Rajesh Patel said, adding that the party had placed leaders in charge of the 200 seats.

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Patel further said, “But the final decision will be taken when the leaders of both the parties will meet on the negotiation table. Whatever seats Apna Dal (S) will get in an alliance with the BJP, it will contest because the victory of the alliance for the government formation is most important.”

With nine MLAs last time, the Apna Dal (S) had one ministerial berth in the state government, and two more leaders were appointed chairperson and vice-chairperson of separate boards of the BJP-led state government.

On December 3, Anupriya Patel and the party’s working president Ashish Patel met senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and his Cabinet colleague Dharmendra Pradhan, who is in charge of the party’s UP election efforts, in New Delhi. Ashish Patel told The Indian Express that seat-sharing arrangements were not discussed at the meeting.

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Meanwhile, Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad also met Pradhan in New Delhi. “The meeting was held, but nothing on seat-sharing came out. Nonetheless, the party has made necessary preparations to contest the upcoming elections in UP,” said a party leader.

In 2017, the Nishad Party, or the Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal, contested 72 seats on its own and managed to bag only one. Two years later, it contested the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the BJP. Sanjay Nishad’s son Praveen Nishad contested the parliamentary elections from Sant Kabir Nagar on a BJP candidate and was elected to the Lok Sabha. This September, Dharmendra Pradhan announced the continuation of the alliance between the two parties.

First published on: 12-12-2021 at 05:57 IST
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