BJP 2019 poll gambit: ‘house’ disgruntled leaders

Adityanath govt grants bungalow to ally with influence among OBCs

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 31.10.18, 2:34 AM
  • Updated 31.10.18, 2:34 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
The bungalow allotted to Shivpal Yadav. Agencies

Bungalows have emerged as the BJP’s trusted bet in election-driven sweepstakes in Uttar Pradesh before the 2019 test.

The party-run government has allotted a palatial Lucknow bungalow to the most influential leader in Uttar Pradesh of the Apna Dal (Sonelal), an ally of the BJP both at the Centre and in the state.

The allotment of the bungalow to Ashish Patel, an MLC and Apna Dal (Sonelal) state president, comes days after the BJP reached out to Samajwadi Party dissident Shivpal Yadav by awarding him a bungalow.

There is a perception that the BJP is losing its grip over a section of upper caste voters and is trying to compensate by wooing Other Backward Classes like the Yadavs and the Kurmis before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The Apna Dal (Sonelal) enjoys substantial influence among the Kurmis, which constitute 12 per cent of eastern Uttar Pradesh’s population. The party has two MPs and nine MLAs. Its national president, Anupriya Patel, is Union minister of state for health and family welfare.

Ashish confirmed the allotment of the bungalow and said his party had demanded that the state government allocate an office for the Apna Dal (Sonelal) in the capital, Lucknow.

“The government has given me a bungalow where I can live and also carry out my work as the state chief of the Apna Dal (Sonelal),” he told reporters.

Sources said there was a sense in the party that other than Anupriya, the other leaders of the Apna Dal (Secular) had been ignored. The allotment of the bungalow to Ashish could mollify these leaders.

A source in the government said the estate department had allotted House No. 1A at Mall Avenue to Ashish. The sprawling bungalow is spread over an area of more than 2,000sqm. Earlier, N.D. Tiwari had been living in the bungalow in his capacity as former chief minister. Tiwari, who passed away on October 18, had vacated the house following a May 2018 Supreme Court order that former chief ministers are not entitled to government bungalows.

A BJP leader said on condition of anonymity that Brahmins were angry with the state and central governments. There is a perception that the upper castes have not got what they had expected from the BJP governments.

“We have annoyed the Brahmins by not doing anything to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. So it is necessary to win the votes of those castes that were not with us in previous elections. Different leaders are doing different things to achieve this target. Adityanath is giving bungalows to leaders of other castes,” the BJP leader said.

Brahmins are also said to be bristling at the police killing of Apple executive Vivek Tiwari in September.It is with the motive of placating the other castes that Shivpal, the brother of Samajwadi patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, was given a bungalow. Shivpal has broken away from the Samajwadi Party and formed the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia).

The Yadavs make up 10 per cent of the electorate in 300 of Uttar Pradesh’s 403 Assembly constituencies and the BJP hopes the attempts to win over Shivpal would help split these votes.

Shivpal has said he would field candidates in all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2019.

There is a strong rumour that the Adityanath government is looking for a suitable bungalow for controversial Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhiayya. With the Thakur voters of half-a-dozen Assembly constituencies in Pratapgarh and Allahabad districts by his side, Singh has applied with the Election Commission for registration of his Jansatta Dal.

“We will contest all elections in the future,” said Singh, who sources said had held several meetings with Adityanath. The MLA from Kunda was a minister in the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi government from 2012 to 2017.

Om Prakash Rajbhar, Uttar Pradesh’s backward class welfare minister and president of BJP ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party whose demand for a bungalow has not been considered favourably, said: “Shivpal is clearly an agent of the BJP.”

“The state government is giving bungalows to many people with the hope that they will help the BJP win in 2019…. I can say that this bungalow politics of Adityanath will be harmful for the BJP,” said Rajbhar.