UP: SP, Rajbhar’s Party Seal Alliance to Defeat BJP, Claim to Dent 160 Seats in Purvanchal
Lucknow: On the lines of ‘Khela Hobe’ (game on), which the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress coined during the West Bengal Assembly polls that saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) eat humble pie, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and O P Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) on Wednesday gave the slogan ‘Khadeda Howe’, a call to “drive out” the ruling BJP government from the state in the Assembly polls scheduled early next year.
Announcing the alliance, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, with a yellow scarf wrapped around his neck, commonly used by SBSP workers, and OP Rajbhar donning SP’s red cap, presented a show of solidarity and unity on stage. The duo declared that BJP would be voted out of power in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
The announcement was made on Wednesday at the ‘mahapanchayat’ organised by Rajbhar in the Haldharpur grounds of Mau district.
SBSP, which leads the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha -- an alliance of over nine smaller political parties, had organised the ‘mahapanchayat’ on its 19th foundation day. This was followed by a meeting held in Lucknow between SBSP and SP’s chief Akhilesh Yadav on October 20.
Addressing the gathering, Akhilesh Yadav claimed the alliance of SP and SBSP had left BJP “confused and afraid.”
“Rajbhar has closed the door through which the BJP came to power (in UP in 2017) and the SP will lock it,” he said.
Speaking on the migrant crisis during the first wave of COVID-19, the former chief minister said during the lockdown, migrant workers were left to walk on foot to their villages, with some even dying on the way. He said during the first wave of the pandemic, most migrant labourers in UP came to Purvanchal from different parts of the country. Reminding them of their woes, the SP leader said those who were poor were left to fend for themselves by the government.
Yadav also tried to reach out to farmers by raising the issue of their ongoing agitation against the new farm laws. "If the three black farm laws are implemented, the farmers will become labourers in their own fields," said.
Cautioning people to not fall into BJP’s ‘trap’ and not trust their rumours, the SP leader said: "Everyone will have to keep in mind the rising inflation, farmers’ woes, unemployed youth, death of migrant labourers during the COVID-19 lockdown and people who died for want of oxygen and proper treatment."
The SP chief was addressing the 'vanchit (deprived), pichhda (backward), Dalit and Minority Bhagidari Mahapanchyat (public meeting)'.
Both SP and SBSP said they were confident that BJP would be “wiped out” in the upcoming Assembly elections.
“When the alliance (between SP and SBSP) was not finalised, political analysts used to give us a certain number of seats. But after our alliance, their analysis has changed. I am sure that no one will be able to stop this alliance in UP,” the SP leader claimed.
O P Rajbhar, SBSP chief and Member of Legislative Assembly(MLA) from Zahoorabad in Ghazipur district, announced a list of promises if Akhilesh Yadav came to power. He said free treatment would be made available to the poor by enacting a law and the working hours of police personnel would be reduced from 16-18 hours to eight hours, and they will also get a weekly off.
"Old pension of state employees will be restored and the domestic electricity bill for five years would be waived," the SBSP leader said, adding that his government would also implement sub-categorisation of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota.
Countering the BJP narrative that “Hindu Khatre mein hai” (Hindus are in danger), the SBSP chief said: “Hindus are not in danger, rather the country is in danger, so is the Constitution.”
It may be mentioned that in 2016, it was in Mau that Rajbhar had announced SBSP’s alliance with BJP at a rally, which was attended by senior party leader Amit Shah. The SBSP won four seats in the 2017 Assembly polls and helped its ally BJP in several seats in Purvanchal as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 325 out of the 403 seats in the state. Later, Rajbhar became minister in Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet. He was, however, sacked two years ago after he turned a bitter critic of the saffron party.
On being asked if the SP-BSP alliance could stop BJP in 2022, political experts claimed that people of UP feel that only SP can challenge BJP in the state. Bahujan Samaj Party, too, has started making moves, but support for BSP does not seem as intense on the ground as for SP.
According to some reports, there are many rajbhar voters in about 120 seats of the state, which can make or break any electoral calculation. The SBSP had displayed its strength in the recently held UP panchayat elections. In the election of district panchayat members, 117 members belonging to Rajbhar's party had won. At the same time, 2,700 village heads were elected and 1,800 Block Development Council members also won.
Reacting on the SP-SBSP alliance, a senior leader among the ‘strategists’ of the SP said it was their endeavor to get more and more people to join the party daily in small chunks. And by doing this, his party would be able to strengthen at the booth level and be able to register a big victory in the coming Assembly elections.
Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, SP spokesperson, said: “In the previous Assembly polls, SP stood second at nearly 164 seats, mainly in Purvanchal. We lost these seats with very less votes. After the alliance with SBSP, we can fill those margins and would win 164 seats,” he said, adding that all the tall OBC leaders, including Ram Achal Rajbhar and Lalji Verma, who used be the part of BSP and other big parties, are now part of SP.
Gandhi said after striking an alliance with SBSP, Samajwadi Party can win more seats as Rajbhars can have an impact on more than 160 seats since they are around 17 -18% of the population in Eastern UP. “We are also in touch with smaller parties in the region and will announce an alliance soon,” he added.
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