With the Samajwadi Party (SP) shutting its door on two of its allies — OP Rajbhar’s SBSP and Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party — its estranged alliance partner Mahan Dal, led by Keshav Dev Maurya, seems to be inclined to return back to the SP fold.
Formed in 2008, Mahan Dal was part of the SP-led umbrella alliance for UP Assembly polls held earlier this year. But last month, Maurya announced parting ways with Akhilesh Yadav-led SP for not sending him to the Legislative Council.
Maurya’s indication to bury the hatchet came on Friday after he met senior SP leader Azam Khan in Rampur and discussed “the future and the past”. The two leaders had an extended meeting after which Maurya said that Akhilesh Yadav was the only leader in the state fighting for the Backwards, Dalits and minorities.
“I had gone to meet Azam saheb to brief him about the circumstances in which the alliance between the Mahan Dal and the SP, fell apart. We had a detailed discussion about the past, how and why things panned out the way they did,” Maurya told The Indian Express on Sunday.
The Mahan Dal has a presence among Most Backward Castes such as Shakyas, Sainis, Mauryas and Kushwahas in some western and eastern UP districts.
When asked if he was ready to start afresh with the SP, Maurya replied: “Yes, I don’t have any problem with that. No other party, except the SP, is fighting for Dalit, Backward and minorities. And my politics also revolves around the same principles.”
He said that he had “no issue with any SP leader” and would not have left the alliance if he had been “heard”.
“If I had been heard, then why would I leave the alliance? I have no issue with any SP leader and Akhileshji. My issue was that Swami Prasad Maurya was given too much importance while I was ignored. The SP humiliated me by not making me an MLC, while they made Swami Prasad Maurya an MLC. This was my only issue,” he said, adding, “I want Akhileshji to become strong in the state because he is the only leader who is fighting for the Dalits, Backwards and minorities.”
Swami Prasad Maurya, who was a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, had switched to the SP in the run-up to the Assembly elections earlier this year.
Mahan Dal was given two tickets by the SP in the Assembly polls – Keshav Dev Maurya’s son Chandra Prakash contested from Bilsi in Badaun district, and wife Suman Shakya from Farrukhabad. However, in both the seats, Mahan Dal lost.
After the SP failed to defeat the ruling BJP in the Assembly elections, its rainbow alliance of six parties started to wither away. SBSP chief Rajbhar has been constantly taking potshots at Akhilesh, accusing him of not stepping out of his “air-conditioned” rooms. Ahead of the last week’s Presidential elections, Rajbhar declared his party’s support for BJP-led NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu.
Shivpal, uncle of Akhilesh, who has also been speaking against Akhilesh, allegedly cross-voted. Though Shivpal Yadav leads his own outfit, Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party, he had contested the Assembly elections on an SP ticket and won from Jaswantnagar.
On Saturday, Akhilesh the two leaders were “free to go wherever they expect to get more respect”. While Shivpal did not disclose his next move, Rajbhar said, “Bahujan Samaj Party zindabad!” adding that he would meet BSP leaders.
Meanwhile, Keshav Dev Maurya alleged that Shivpal and Rajbhar were “planted” by the BJP into the SP-led alliance. “From the beginning, I didn’t want them (Shivpal and Rajbhar) in the alliance. I felt the same for Swami Prasad Maurya. They were planted by the BJP in the alliance to ensure the SP’s defeat,” the Mahan Dal chief said.
An SP leader said that the formal exit of Rajbhar and Shivpal will also encourage Keshav Dev Maurya to return to the SP. “With so many allies, the SP was finding it hard to reach out to all of them. But now, Rajbhar and Shivpal have left, and it has opened the door again for the Mahan Dal,” said a leader.