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Another ally takes on Akhilesh; don’t stay in A-C rooms, go to field, says Om Prakash Rajbhar

Embattled SP says 'all is well', Rajbhar advice is good, healthy, Akhilesh travels anyway

Written by Asad Rehman | Lucknow |
Updated: May 24, 2022 8:29:46 pm
Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party President Om Prakash Rajbhar with Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav. (PTI/File)

In one more sign of trouble within the alliance forged by the Samajwadi Party for the Assembly elections, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar has advised SP supremo to “leave his air-conditioned rooms more often… and be more active in the field”.

Rajbhar’s statement follows signals by Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) president Shivpal Yadav – who buried deep-seated differences with nephew Akhilesh to contest on the SP symbol in the Assembly elections – that the detente between them was over.

SBSP MLAs and Shivpal also kept away from the protest by SP legislators in the Assembly against the Governor’s speech on Monday. The other two who stayed away were SP MLAs Azam Khan and son Abdullah, who have also made their displeasure with the party leadership evident.

Justifying this on Tuesday, Rajbhar said his party members didn’t take part in the protest “as they wanted to give a lesson on respect towards the Governor”. “We wanted to give a message that the Governor shouldn’t be disrespected. If people have something to say, they should say it during the session of the House.”

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Rajbhar’s advice to Akhilesh had come at a press briefing, where he had gone on to say that he was confident the SP chief would follow suit. “He should go out in the field. Meet his leaders and workers… He will go. How will he not?” he said.

The SP, already bruised by Azam Khan’s barbs, is taking what Rajbhar said in its stead for now. Asked about the SBSP chief’s statement Monday, Akhilesh said, “Achaa keh rahe hain (What he has said is good).” The SP is aware that it might not take much for the SBSP to cross back to the BJP; the two parties had contested the 2017 Assembly elections together.

The SBSP was part of the umbrella alliance formed by the SP in the run-up to the recent state polls, including the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Janwadi Party (Socialist) led by Sanjay Chauhan, Krishna Patel’s Apna Dal (Kamervadi), and Shivpal’s PSP (L).

While the SBSP enjoys the support of the Rajbhar community (an OBC sub-caste whose share in UP’s population is 3-4%), which is largely based in eastern UP and adjoining districts, it has been claiming support of other smaller and most backward OBC sub-castes such as Shakyas, Sainis, Mauryas, Kushwahas, Arkvanshis, Raghuvanshis, Pals, Chauhans.

In the recent polls, the SBSP won six of the 17 seats it contested, and is also seen to have helped the SP alliance in its stronghold of eastern UP.

On Tuesday, the SBSP took aim at this too, saying while the party had done well in the elections and “ensured the win of SP candidates by transfer of votes”, the SP had not managed to do that for the SBSP in its traditional bastions in the Yadav belt of Etawah, Mainpur, Kannauj and nearby districts.

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SBSP general secretary Arun Rajbhar told The Indian Express: “We kept our end of the promise. We helped the SP win eastern UP. But the SP chief must work hard to ensure that the story of 2022 is not repeated in 2024. And for that, he needs to travel. Apart from when House proceedings happen, he should not stay in Lucknow. He should travel across UP and reclaim his party foothold across the state.”

Asked if this was likely to irk Akhilesh, he said: “I am saying what is right. I meet SP leaders and they say we should advise Akhileshji to travel. If our small party can hold meetings across UP, why can’t he?”

SP national spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary took the same line as Akhilesh when asked about Om Prakash Rajbhar’s statement. He said he took it as “healthy advice” and stated that “all is well” between the SP and SBSP.

“Rajbharji has given some healthy advice. And we have no issue with it. He says Akhileshji should travel, which he does anyway. There is absolutely no chance of any rift between the SP and SBSP,” he said.

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