Major political players in Uttar Pradesh have started efforts to cobble up the support of smaller parties with an eye on next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
The bigger parties are looking towards smaller parties that may have a limited area of influence but are caste specific.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has a strong presence in Uttar Pradesh but is looking to further consolidate its position by wooing smaller parties.
The BJP already has the Apna Dal (S) and Nishad Party as its allies but wants to win over other parties. The BJP is trying to bring the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) back into its fold.
The SBSP, which is a Rajbhar centric party, was a BJP ally in the 2017 Assembly polls but parted ways on a bitter note in 2019.
SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar is increasingly inclined to join the NDA and could make an announcement any time now. He has already met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Saturday.
Rajbhar voters can give the alliance an upper hand on seats like Ghosi, Ghazipur, Lalganj and Ballia. Besides, it can present a decent fight in seats like Jaunpur, Azamgarh and Ambedkar Nagar.
However, the BJP will need to handle over-demanding Rajbhar as an ally.
The Samajwadi Party, which is in alliance with RLD, is facing rough weather because RLD wants to join hands with the Congress for the 2024 polls but SP is not enthused by the idea.
Though both parties deny it, speculation is rife that RLD may ultimately opt for an alliance with the Congress if the SP does not relent.
“If you want to fight the BJP at the national level, you cannot ignore the Congress which does have a presence outside UP,” said a senior RLD leader.
The Samajwadi Party, meanwhile, is said to be trying to bring back estranged allies like the Mahan Dal and Janwadi Party. The SP already has the rival Apna Dal faction, led by Krishna Patel, as an ally.
Congress, which is emerging as BJP’s main challenger in the national arena, is a minor player in UP — India’s most politically significant state.
There is a buzz of a possible alliance between Congress and BSP but a major stumbling block is that fact that the UP Congress is headed by ex-BSP leaders — Brijlal Khabri, Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Nakul Dubey — this is unacceptable to Mayawati.
However, a BSP-Congress, along with RLD, will gain minorities’ confidence and could emerge as a major challenger to the BJP.