In a bid to forge an anti-BJP front in Uttar Pradesh ahead of 2017 Assembly polls, the JD(U) is sending two of its Rajya Sabha MPs to Varanasi for a conference organised by Akhil Bharatiya Patel Navnirman Sena (ABPNS). ABPNS has been agitating for Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s release from jail and on farmers’ issues.
JD (U) national secretary general and Rajya Sabha MP K C Tyagi reached Varanasi on Thursday to address the conference, which will be held at Patel Dharmshala on Friday. JD (U) MP R P Singh, too, will attend the conference, the theme for which is “Significance of thought of Sardar Patel in current political scenario.”
Tyagi told The Indian Express that he has come to Varanasi on the invitation of ABPNS and to support their demands for Hardik’s release and reservation for Patels. “I respect decisions of the court in Hardik’s case, but Gujarat government lodged a sedition case against him with political vendetta,” he said.
He also said ABPNS wanted to invite Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to address a mahapanchayat in Varanasi and a decision in this regard could be taken on Friday. Tyagi said that if Nitish accepted the invitation, he may start his campaign in UP from Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of PM Narendra Modi.
Former RLSP leader Akhilesh Katiyar, who was suspended from Upendra Kushwaha’s party for organising a function for Hardik Patel last September, is organising the ABPNS event. “Katiyar has been leading the Patel movement well and we see him as a potential ally of the anti-Modi front,” said Tyagi. Katiyar had also attended Nitish Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony on JD (U)’s invitation.
Stating that his party had intensified efforts to replicate the Grand Alliance’s Bihar victory in other poll-bound states, Tyagi said: “Choosing Varanasi for the conference is politically significant and one is free to draw interpretations. Nitish Kumar has become the nucleus of anti-Narendra Modi politics after the Grand Alliance victory in Bihar.” He added that Nitish was in talks with Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh to forge an alliance for UP polls.
ABPNS had earlier planned a kisan mahapanchayat with Hardik Patel in Varanasi on December 15, the death anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. But, the event was postponed after Hardik’s bail plea was rejected.
ABPNS national executive member Sushil Kashyap said nearly 2,000 people are likely to attend the conference. He said the kisan mahapanchayat would be organised whenever Hardik is released from jail.