In a major setback to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), three days before the second phase of Lok Sabha polls, the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), an ally of the ruling BJP in Eastern Uttar Pradesh has reportedly decided to break the alliance for not being given enough seats to contest in the party's area of influence.
SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, who is a cabinet minister in the Yogi Adityanath's government in Uttar Pradesh, has also tendered his resignation from the post and announced his party’s decision to contest in 25 seats.
Addressing the media at his resident in Ballia, Rajbhar said, "The SBSP will contest the Lok Sabha elections on its own. It will field candidates from 25 seats (in Uttar Pradesh) and their names will be announced soon."
As per reports, Rajbhar said that in a meeting regarding the alliance, which was held at the chief minister's residence on April 13, BJP had proposed to field an SBSP candidate on its symbol. However, this decision was not welcomed by him.
In a high voltage drama that followed, Rajbhar had then been turned away from the CM’s residence in Lucknow when he had gone to submit his resignation letter.
Caste Arithmetic In Eastern UP
In the 2017 Assembly election, the SBSP had tied up with the BJP and the party had won four seats out of eight contested. Following that, Rajbhar was made a cabinet minister, however, he soon started accusing the Yogi government of neglecting and sidelining his party.
Also read: Election 2019: In UP, the Making and Breaking of Alliances Continues
Babban Rajbhar, Lucknow district president of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party told NewsClick, "We wanted five seats - Ghosi, Jaunpur, Ambedkar Nagar, Chandauli, Lalganj or Machhali Shahar to contest for Lok Sabha elections. We were ready to contest even if they had given us two seats but they refused to give a single seat. Instead they asked us to contest on a single seat on BJP's symbol which is very humiliating for us. Not just that the ruling BJP is also trying to break our party.”
He added, "They asked us to merge our party with BJP giving an example of Nishad Party. However, if we contest on their symbol, our existence will be in trouble. Though BJP is contesting on 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh ignoring its allies, we will show our power to the ruling BJP. In 32 Lok Sabha seats of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, we have over one lakh voters and we will show our unity to the Yogi government."
Talking about how the Rajbhar community may affect the BJP in eastern UP, Balwant Yadav, a farmers’ leader based in Ballia told NewsClick, "Rajbhar's party will surely prove costly to BJP. In the Assembly election, the whole Rajbhar community had voted for BJP. In 4-5 Lok Sabha seats near east of Varanasi and east of Jaunpur and Faizabad, they are in good numbers. Now, all these voters will go against the BJP, and will possibly go for either the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance or Congress. In eastern UP, the caste equation has remained quite tense, which means that SP might try to bring them as a part of the alliance.”
Balwant added, "In almost 5-6 districts, Rajbhar community consist more than fifty thousand voters and such margin is sure to affect the BJP’s chances in the coming elections.”