Nimbly crisscrossing political lines, SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar is the BJP’s disgruntled ally in Uttar Pradesh who proclaimed his support for the SP-BSP and now seems disenchanted with the ‘mahagathbandhan’ too.
The Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), the BJP’s ally in Uttar Pradesh, is contesting against the saffron party.
The party, which has influence in eastern Uttar Pradesh, is contesting 35 seats and has extended support to the grand alliance in Maharajganj, Bansgaon and Sant Kabir Nagar and to the Congress in Mirzapur.
Rajbhar, who is still a cabinet minister in the BJP-led government in the state, said he will take a final call on his party’s alliance with the BJP after the polls.
In a disparaging reference to Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, Rajbhar said, “They don’t even know how many Dalits and backwards castes are in the state. They claim to be leaders of these two sections of the society but they don’t know much about them.”
He described the ongoing Lok Sabha polls as a fight for SBSP’s “relevance”.
“I had demanded only one seat from BJP but even that was denied, so we were left with no other option.”
He added that the SBSP is not contesting to win elections or to defeat any party. “We are contesting elections to let others know where we stand,” Rajbhar told PTI.
On the question of his party extending support to the SP-BSP grand alliance on three seats and the Congress on one seat, Rajbhar said it was a decision of the party’s local unit.
“In SBSP, everyone is party president. So on these four seats, nominations of our party’s candidates were cancelled and the local unit decided to extend the support to SP-BSP grand alliance and on one seat to the Congress,” he said.
The SBSP enjoys support of the Rajbhar community, which constitutes 20 per cent of the Purvanchal population and is regarded as the second-most politically dominant community after Yadavs in eastern UP, parts of which will vote in the last round of the seven-phase election on May 19.
In the 2017 assembly elections in the state, the party won seven seats out of the 14 it contested in alliance with the BJP.
The SBSP may dent the BJP’s hopes of consolidating the votes of the non-Yadav OBCs, who make up over 30 per cent of the electorate in the state.
Rajbhar has been a vocal critic of the BJP for the last few months, speaking out against the Yogi Adityanath government and demanding quotas for his community within the reservation for the OBCs.