Samajwadi-Rajbhar tie-up for bypolls
Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, a former BJP ally turned vocal critic of the ruling party, might contest the upcoming Assembly by-elections in Uttar Pradesh together, sources in both outfits hinted on Sunday.
They said Akhilesh and Om Prakash Rajbhar, who heads the SBSP, had met at least twice in the past two days to discuss their joint strategy for 13 vacant seats where the Election Commission may announce polls in October.
Eleven of these seats had fallen vacant following the election of their MLAs as members of Parliament in May 2019.
One seat has fallen vacant after the death of the sitting MLA. On Sunday, the Election Commission announced polls for the other seat, Hamirpur, vacant following the disqualification of the BJP’s Ashok Chandel, who was convicted by Allahabad High Court in a mass murder case.
The SBSP was an ally of the BJP till May this year before the alliance snapped. Rajbhar, who was backward class welfare minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, had told his supporters at a public meeting in Mau on May 17 that “the government had failed on every front” and “you beat the BJP leaders with your shoes if they make promises”.
Adityanath suspended him from his government on May 20 and the BJP leadership had announced later in the day the alliance was over.
“It was a mismatch with the BJP. We are an important force in east Uttar Pradesh and can get 20,000 to 40,000 votes in at least 50 Assembly seats in the region without any effort,” Rajbhar, whose party had won four of the 403 seats in the 2017 Assembly elections, told reporters in Lucknow on Sunday.
“We can also work and corner the substantial Rajbhar or Most Backward Class votes in over 100 other seats. This means that an alliance of Rajbhar, Yadav and Muslim votes would dislodge the BJP in the bypolls and later in the 2022 Assembly polls.”
The SBSP leader claimed the BJP had won at least 50 Assembly seats in east Uttar Pradesh in 2017 because of his support base.
“There are 150 Assembly seats where Rajbhar votes are more than 50,000,” the SBSP chief added.
A source close to Rajbhar said he had asked Akhilesh for three constituencies — Balha (Bahraich), Ghosi (Mau) and Jalalapur (Ambedkar Nagar) — where bypolls are due as part of the seat-share deal.
“The SP can contest in 10 seats and leave these three for us,” an SBSP leader said, but asked not to be named.
Samajwadi spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary confirmed the two leaders have been meeting but didn’t reveal much.
A Samajwadi leader, who was present at the meetings, however, said the party was open to the alliance with Rajbhar.
“We are open to an alliance with the SBSP after our break-up with the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party. Akhilesh is of the firm view that the anti-BJP forces must be together to end fascism.”
Mayawati had parted ways with the Samajwadi after their alliance in the April-May parliamentary elections failed to click. The SP-BSP alliance won 15 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.