LUCKNOW: With SP-BSP alliance against the BJP almost a reality now in UP, major re-alignment of political forces is expected on the ground as National Democratic Alliance, led by the saffron party, has reportedly begun a hunt for new allies to counter the challenge posed by the tie-up.
In fact, the BJP has been riled with ally problem throughout the last year. Not only the alliance between two prominent regional satraps, but BJP’s sulking allies --Suheldev Bharat Samaj Party (SBSP) of OP Rajbhar and Apna Dal (S) of Anupryia Patel -- have also driven the saffron party to search for new allies to get a respectable number in 2019 if not repeating 2014 when NDA had bagged 73 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP.
In 2014, BJP got 71 and Apna Dal (S) had won two seats—Mirzapur (Anupriya Patel) and Pratapgarh (Kunwar Harivansh Singh). As a result, smaller parties are nurturing hope of allying with the BJP. Even more, under the changing political landscape, the BJP is also focusing on hunting caste- based outfits to have caste calculation in its favour in 2019 to counter SP -BSP equation which is purely caste based alliance.
Besides allying with Apna Dal (S) in 2014 Lok Sabha, BJP roped in SBSP in 2017 Assembly polls registering a record victory. In the recent past, the bitterness between the BJP and both allies has increased. Now both AD (S) and SBSP are flexing muscles in a bid to clinch a few more seats.
Apna Dal (S), led by Ashish Patel, MLC and husband of AD(S) convenor Anupriya Patel (Modi Minister) had recently expressed dismay accusing state BJP leadership of not according required respect to smaller allies.
Similarly, SBSP chief OP Rajbhar, a Yogi minister, has been critical of the CM and the dispensations since joining the government in 2017. Rajbhar basically wants the state government to carve quota for most backward classes (MBC) within the quota for OBCs. He has been threatening to leaving NDA and reportedly been hobnobbing with the opposition.
As a result, the Saffron Party has redrawn its strategy and is now eyeing the rebels of its allies. While the other faction of Apna Dal, led by Krishna Patel (Anupriya Patel’s mother) has admitted to have been in contact with BJP leadership and also SP and BSP to strike a favourable deal for 2019, the rebel of SPBSP, Madan Rajbhar, who has formed Bharatiya Sangharsh Samaj Party, is also talking to BJP state leadership for a tie-up.
SBSP had suffered a vertical split recently when founding member Madan Rajbhar parted ways with OP Rajbhar charging the latter with nepotism.
Both AD(S) and SBSP had boycotted the PM's rally in Ghazipur on December 29 as a mark of protest. While Apna Dal is dominated by Kurmis who make 3 per cent of total backwards in UP, SBSP is a party of Rajhbhars who belong to the most backward category.
But the biggest surprise could be the Rashatriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Chaudhary Ajit Singh as a section of BJP leaders, especially, of western UP, have urged the party leadership to initiate talks with the jat party depsite it being part of opposition alliance.
RLD had fought 2009 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the BJP when it won five of the seven seats BJP had spared for it. In 2014 they fought it as part of UPA but failed to win even a single seats of the eight they contested on.
In the current scenario, both SP and BSP have reportedly left only two seats-- Baghpat and Mathura -- to accommodate RLD chief Ajit Singh and his son Jayant. "If the BJP offers them a few more seats, they may oblige the saffron camp as Ajit Singh has an image of switching sides in no time," says a political observer.
On the other, if RLD joins BJP camp, sailing may be smoother for the NDA in view of RLD’s respectable clout among powerful jat community in western UP.
Besides, the saffron party, apparently, is prepared to give representation to specific caste leaders on its symbol in areas of their dominance.