2022 UP polls: After Rajbhar and Akhilesh seal pact, Owaisi facing tricky situation

By Namita Bajpai| Express News Service | Published: 23rd October 2021 03:30 PM
Former Uttar Pradesh Minister and SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar (Photo | PTI)

LUCKNOW: The much talked about alliance between the OP Rajbhar-led Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) and Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party for the electoral battle due early next year may indicate a re-alignment of political forces in Uttar Pradesh, but has put a big question mark on the future of the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha (BSM), a conglomerate of 10 very small regional and caste-based groups.

Significantly, the alliance also leaves Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM in the lurch. The AIMIM was among the first political outfits to join the BSM showing faith in the leadership of OP Rajbhar.

In fact, the BSM was formed and nurtured with the idea of carving a base among the most and extremely backward castes (MBCs and EBCs) to establish their identity away from dominant backward castes and ensure their representation in power politics.

After the alliance with the Samajwadi Party, the political credibility of Rajbhar is again under the scanner as after assembling 10 smaller parties under the BSM umbrella, he changed course suddenly and shook hands with the SP leaving other members of the BSM including the AIMIM to fend for themselves.

Rajbhar has the image of not being a stable political leader. He was once with the BSP but left to protest Mayawati’s functioning. He floated the SBSP before the 2017 polls and made common cause with the BJP on an ideological plank. The BJP-SBSP partnership enabled Rajbhar to expand his clout in east UP, beyond Varanasi and Gorakhpur in 2017. In 2012, Rajbhar’s party had contested around 50 seats, winning none, but in 2017, he along with the BJP fought nine seats, winning four of them.

ALSO READ: 2022 Uttar Pradesh polls: Om Prakash Rajbhar's SBSP seals alliance with Samajwadi Party

However, the alliance with the BJP fell apart during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Rajbhar accused the Yogi Adityanath government of not implementing the recommendations of the social justice committee set up to review the re-classification of UP’s backward castes to ensure equal benefits of reservation
and level playing field to the MBCs and EBCs.

After the SBSP-SP alliance, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav will face the challenge of striking a balance among the dominant Yadavs, MBCs and EBCs as he is believed to have promised Rajbhar that the social justice committee’s recommendations would be implemented. Moreover, the seat-sharing between the two allies would not be an easy task as Akhilesh will have to satisfy two major blocks: the SBSP and Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

On the other hand, for Rajbhar, the going would not be that easy as he would have to bid adieu to Owasi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and other BSM parties. Owaisi has been spinning the wheel of the anti-Samajawadi Party discourse in UP. He is trying to project the SP as a force which has always used Muslims as a vote bank and then forgot about them.

"In fact, Owaisi has been looking to make the kind of breakthrough he achieved in the Bihar Assembly polls where his party won five seats for the first time. Owaisi had hoped to capitalise on the minority “discomfort” with the SP as Muslims believe that Akhilesh has failed to come out in favour of jailed Azam Khan forcefully," says Prof AK Mishra, a prominent political scientist. He adds that Owaisi has been looking at the UP elections as an opportunity to widen the AIMIM’s footprint in UP.

In Uttar Pradesh, it was almost always the SP barring 2007 when Muslims voted for the BSP and the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when they rooted for the Congress. In the 2017 Assembly election, the AIMIM on its own fought on 38 seats, won nothing and secured a vote share of 0.24 per cent.

It is a Catch 22 situation for Owaisi as he will have to swallow his pride and co-exist with the SBSP-SP coalition or fight solo and be back at square one. Immediately after stitching an alliance with the SP, the SBSP has started denying Owaisi’s presence in the BSM saying that his party was not a part of it. “He broke our trust the day his party’s UP chief Shaukat Ali announced that the AIMIM will contest 100 seats,” said SBSP national spokesman Piyush Mishra.

As per highly placed sources, the AIMIM’s Owaisi and Jan Adhikar Party chief Babu Singh Kushwaha may part ways with the BSM after the SBSP-SP alliance. On the other hand, even Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar, in talks with the BSM, has not said anything about his joining the Morcha categorically.

Even an alliance with the SP does not suit the politics of the Bhim Army which claims to be the voice mainly of Scheduled Castes which have been allegedly tormented by the dominant Yadavs.

Tags : OP Rajbhar SBSP Uttar Pradesh elections AIMIM

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