LUCKNOW/PATNA: With the Assembly elections just a few months away, political mobilisation is picking up in Uttar Pradesh. While the state already has a plethora of political players vying for their share in the electoral pie, parties from neighbouring Bihar are also making a beeline to test the poll waters in UP in 2022.
The JD-U, the LJP, the HAM and the Vikassheel Insaan Party have started mobilising their cadres for the big battle. All these are caste-based parties which do not have a major presence in UP as yet. But they are eyeing their respective caste votes to expand their footprints in UP.
The JD-U is set to field candidates on around 200 seats. According to its senior leader and UP-in-charge K C Tyagi, JD-U would like to contest the polls in alliance with the BJP. But if alliance talks fail, the party would go it alone, like it did in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam.
The JD-U had fielded candidates in Pilibhit, Robertsganj and Akbarpur against the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but had tasted defeat. In 2017, the party, then in alliance with RJD-Congress, had extended support to the SP. The JD-U is weighing it prospects in UP because the Kurmis, which comprises about 3-4 per cent of the total 54 per cent of backward caste population in UP, plays a decisive role in more than 50 constituencies.
The party hopes to capitalise on the popularity of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, a Kurmi, in eastern and central seats including Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Sant Kabir Nagar, Unnao, Jalaun, Fatehpur, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Siddharth Nagar, Basti, Barabanki, Kanpur, Akbarpur, Etah, Bareilly and Lakhimpur Kheri.
LJP MP Chirag Paswan has planned Ashirwad Yatra across UP to activate cadre in the state. Chirag, after the demise of his father Ram Vilas Paswan, is engaged in a bitter battle for party’s control with uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, who is currently holding a similar yatra in Bihar. The LJP had earlier contested in 2007 and 2012. With UP already having several claimants to SC votes, the LJP is
not expected to taste any major success.
Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led HAM is also eyeing a debut in Uttar Pradesh, albeit in alliance with the BJP. Manjhi’s son Santosh Suman, who is a minister in the Nitish government in Bihar, had met UP CM Yogi Adityanath on August 2 in Lucknow. “My party enjoys influence over Manjhi,
Machua and Kewat communities settled in eastern UP. Whether we will fight in alliance with the BJP or alone is yet to be decided,” Suman had said reporters.
Suman had claimed that the issues of the Scheduled Caste communities in both states were largely the same. In this northern state, SCs make up about 22 per cent of the population. Of the state’s 403 assembly seats, 86 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Led by Bihar’s animal husbandry minister Mukesh Sahani, VIP is seeking to cash in on the legacy of bandit queen Phoolan Devi, with eyes on Nishad votes. It had announced to set up statues of Phoolan Devi in Almihra village on her death anniversary, but was stopped by police. Now, it plans to install 50,000 statues in its workers’ houses and distribute 5 lakh lockets carrying her photo among Nishad community members. The Nishads, numbering 5,000-20,000 in each constituency of eastern and central districts, make up about four per cent of the OBC population.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s meeting with SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Delhi on August 2 had set off a buzz about their alliance. But, the SP had wholeheartedly supported the RJD in Bihar and the RJD is bound to reciprocate, with Tejashwi Yadav likely to campaign for the SP.