Small parties like Qaumi Ekta Dal, Peace Party of India, Apna Dal, Mahan Dal, Welfare Party of India, Rashtriya Ulema Council, Parcham Party of India and Indian Socialist Party are busy searching for partners to stitch up a coalition to contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Even big parties like Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and Samajwadi Party are trying to woo small parties to make deep inroads into certain castes and communities.
According to S.Q.R. Ilyas, president of the Welfare Party, his outfit has already formed an alliance called UP Ittehad Front with Parcham Party and Ulema Council. “We are also in talks with other parties like Peace Party, Indian Socialist Party, Mahan Dal, etc to join our front. We will announce our full-fledged front with new allies on 19 July,” said Ilyas.
Qaumi Ekta Dal of don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari had merged with Samajwadi Party earlier this month, but the merger was scrapped by UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. QED is also seeking allies. “We will join all like-minded small political forces. We are in touch with everyone but we will not announce any decision before August,” said party president Afzal Ansari.
Dr Abdul Manman of Peace Party too hinted towards the formation of a big front of small parties anytime soon.
The small parties had garnered around 5% votes in the 2012 elections. And most of these parties have sway over certain sections of the electorate like OBCs, Muslims and Dalits and, thus, have the ability to influence the result of constituencies in many districts. Therefore, all leading political parties are trying to strike a deal with them.
The BJP is in talks with the Indian Socialist Party and, according to sources, the alliance may be finalised in July itself. The head of SPI, Om Prakash Rajbhar, admitted that he is in touch with the BJP leadership and that his party may contest elections under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) banner. BJP in 2014 was in alliance with the Apna Dal of Anupriya Patel and the Apna Dal had won two parliamentary seats. But later, the alliance broke up. Now, sources say, Anupriya, an MP from Mirzapur, may be inducted in the Narendra Modi Cabinet in the next reshuffle with an eye on reviving the alliance before the upcoming Assembly polls. “Apna Dal has influence over a large swathe of Kurmi votes in Varanasi, Mirzapur and Allahabad. The BJP will try to win back their 2014 allies at any cost,” said a BJP insider. Besides, say sources, the BJP is also planning to rope in estranged leaders of other parties like Swami Prasad Maurya and R.K. Chaudhary, who recently left the BSP.
Like BJP, the Congress and Samajwadi Party are also seeking allies to expand their appeal among certain castes and communities. “We are inviting small parties, whoever may agree with our poll strategy. Talks are on with Mahan Dal and Peace Party,” said Nirmal Khatri, a senior UP Congress leader. Congress is already in alliance with Janata Dal (U) in the state.
A senior Samajwadi Party leader said that the SP is ready to ally with any small party which may help it garner votes of the minority, Dalits and some sections of the OBCs like Kurmis and Mauryas.