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Apna Dal (Sonelal), BJP's ally in Uttar Pradesh, eyes Congress

The party has threatened to quit the alliance if its demand for a dozen seats is not accepted

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 23.02.19, 2:27 AM
  • Updated 23.02.19, 2:27 AM
  • 2 mins read
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia at the Congress meeting Picture by Prem Singh

BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) has threatened to quit the alliance and tie up with the Congress if its demand to contest a dozen Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh is not accepted, a day after its key leaders met Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Anupriya Patel, junior health and family welfare minister at the Centre and Apna Dal (S) leader, said on Friday that her party would “no longer bear the insult” and would part ways with the BJP.

“The BJP doesn’t respect its allies. Despite our repeated requests that we be given due respect, BJP leaders are ignoring us. They are committing a blunder by taking us for granted,” Anupriya told reporters in Lucknow.

“We had given time till February 20 to the BJP to mend its ways. That deadline has passed. Now we will quit the NDA,” she said, adding that she was “feeling suffocated in the NDA”.

Sources in Apna Dal (S) said Anupriya and her husband, party president Ashish Singh Patel, met Priyanka and Jyotiraditya, the newly appointed Congress general secretaries of east and west Uttar Pradesh, at Priyanka’s Delhi residence on Thursday.

“They held a meeting for about three hours. We are preparing to be a part of the Congress-led UPA in case Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah refuse to accept our demand to contest a sufficient number of Lok Sabha seats,” a senior Apna Dal (S) leader said on condition of anonymity.

The Apna Dal (S), which wields clout among backward Kurmi voters in east Uttar Pradesh and can influence results in at least eight Lok Sabha seats, had contested in alliance with the BJP in the 2014 parliamentary and 2017 Assembly elections and won two and nine seats, respectively.

The Apna Dal (S) leader said Shah had been “ignoring” the party’s demand for 12 seats in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 constituencies.

“Shah did not make any commitment whenever Anupriya spoke to him. It appears that the BJP chief wants to keep us in the lurch till the eleventh hour. But we want clarity soon so that we can chalk out our strategy,” the leader said.

In December 2018, Apna Dal (S) president Ashish Singh had warned chief minister Yogi Adityanath and state BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey “to mend their ways or get ready for a break-up.”

“The Uttar Pradesh government and the state BJP leadership have been ignoring its allies,” Ashish Singh had said at that time, adding that “BJP leaders are creating a situation where we would be forced to leave the NDA”.

Om Prakash Rajbhar, the president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, another restive ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, has also threatened to quit the alliance over a quota demand.

“We cannot tolerate the BJP because it is refusing to create a sub-quota for the most backward castes within the OBC quota,” Rajbhar, the backward classes welfare minister, said on Thursday, iterating his demand.

The BJP said it would sort out the issues with the Apna Dal (S).

Keshav Prasad Maurya, the deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, said: “We will ensure that the Apna Dal remains our friend. Our leadership will resolve the deadlock soon.”