With UTTAR PRADESH seemingly set for a triangular contest between the BJP, Congress and Samajwadi Party-BSP in the Lok Sabha elections, smaller parties are hoping for tie-ups with one of the three groups.
From SP rebel Shivpal Yadav’s new political party, Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia), to six-time Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh ‘Raja Bhaiya’, from BJP allies Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) and Apna Dal (S) to parties such as the Nishad Party, Peace Party and AIMIM, each of them expects to end up as an influencer or at least a spoiler.
While PSP(L) is expected to cut into SP-BSP votes, Raja Bhaiya is banking on his clout in Pratapgarh to help his new outfit Jansatta Dal.
While the Opposition, especially SP president Akhilesh Yadav, has been calling the two parties the “BJP’s B-team”, Shivpal has denied it. Instead, say sources, the PSP-L is hoping for an alliance with the Congress. “If any secular party, including the Congress, contacts us and talks to us, I am ready,” Shivpal recently said.
Raja Bhaiya, who has been a minister in governments headed by Akhilesh, Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh, has said he is yet to decide on an alliance and that his focus was “issues” rather than parties. He claims to have formed his new party to oppose reservation in promotions and against the “draconian” provisions of the SC/ST Act.
“The 10 per cent reservation for the general category poor is a welcome move. But there are several other issues. All parties oppose the new SC/ST Act but won’t say it officially. It is too early for us to say whether we will tie up with a party or go solo,” Raja Bhaiya said.
The SBSP has threatened to part ways with the BJP if the Centre does not set aside a sub-quota for most backward castes within the 27 per cent OBC quota. Headed by UP Cabinet minister Om Prakash Rajbhar, the party has a significant reach among the Rajbhar community in Ballia, Ghazipur and Varanasi. In the 2017 Assembly polls, SBSP contested on eight seats and won four, with Rajbhar winning from Zahoorabad constituency of Ghazipur.
While still with the BJP, Apna Dal (S) coordinator and Union minister Anupriya Patel has been expressing unhappiness with the party and recently said she may be forced to “take a decision” if the state BJP leadership continues to “ignore” her party workers.
The party, which represents Kurmis, has a significant presence in the central and eastern parts of the state. In 2017, the party contested on 11 seats as part of the NDA and won nine.
Two other smaller parties, the NISHAD Party led by former BSP member Sanjay Nishad, and the Peace Party led by surgeon and philanthropist Mohammad Ayub, claim they are in talks with the SP-BSP alliance.
Nishad, whose party has a presence in eastern UP, has been claiming that the Nishad community will have a say in at least 152 Assembly seats. In 2017, the party, which contested on 100 seats in alliance with the Peace Party and other unrecognised parties, won one seat. In the Varanasi by-election, Sanjay’s son Praveen Nishad won with the SP’s support.
“I have already talked to the SP and things will be clear soon. We are going to have a meeting soon. The SP will give us seats from its share,” Nishad Party president Sanjay Nishad said.
Peace Party’s Ayub said, “Things are not that clear at this point but we are expected to go with the (SP-BSP) alliance. Talks are on. There should be some clarity by the end of this month.” While the party won four seats in the 2012 state elections, in 2017, it drew a blank.