SP is accommodating smaller parties in the hope of denting the non-Yadav OBC vote bank of the BJP.

 

New Delhi: The Samajwadi Party (SP), the principal Opposition party of Uttar Pradesh, had started preparation for the upcoming Assembly election in the state on a war-footing, with its president and former UP Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, specifically focusing on non-Yadav Other Backward Classes (OBCs), sources privy to the poll preparations told The Sunday Guardian. These caste groups have become the core vote bank of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014. The party is accommodating smaller political parties of these caste groups in the run-up to the Assembly election.

Earlier, the party had made it clear that it will not go into an electoral alliance with any of the other major political forces in the state like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Indian National Congress (INC). Recently, SP had forged an alliance with Mahan Dal, which has presence in Western UP and Rohilkhand regions for the UP Assembly polls. Mahan Dal claims to have the support of many sub-castes within the other backward castes groups such as Mauryas, Shakyas, Kushwahas, Shakyas, Sainis and Kambojs. However, it has failed to register any electoral success so far in the political landscape of the state. Akhilesh Yadav was the Chief Guest at the Mahan Dal’s workers’ convention where they decided to ally with the SP and make Akhilesh Yadav the CM in 2022.

Political analysts and experts of Uttar Pradesh politics feel that if Samajwadi Party dents the non-Yadav OBC vote bank of the BJP, then only it can upset the saffron party. “It is becoming very clear that the BSP in down and the SP is emerging as a main challenger for the BJP and its vote share is likely to increase in the coming election, but the benefit with the BJP is that it is sitting on an absolute majority of 325 seats in the Assembly of 403; even if it loses 100 seats, it will form the government. With SP emerging as the principal challenger to the BJP, the split in the Muslim votes can be ruled out, if we combine Muslim-Yadav, it is roughly 27-28% and if we add Jats to it as SP-RLD, the alliance is much likely to materialize in coming days, it will be a challenging alliance,” Vikas Pathak, a noted political analyst based in New Delhi who had covered Uttar Pradesh widely, told The Sunday Guardian. “The question is will it be enough to stop the BJP? Perhaps not as most of the upper castes, non-Yadav OBCs, who constitutes roughly 27% of Uttar Pradesh population have become the most vocal supporters of the BJP. The only possible way Akhilesh Yadav can upset the saffron party is by breaking at least half of the non-Yadav OBC vote,” he added. “An ideal alliance would be SP-BSP-RLD as BSP still has its core Jatav vote which is roughly 10% of Uttar Pradesh population,” Vikas Pathak said.

Samajwadi Party leaders feel that non-Yadavs will support them in the coming polls. “BJP has cheated the non-Yadav OBCs, they were not properly represented in the governmental architecture in the last four-and-half years. While contesting elections, we will give them due representation in the ticket distribution itself,” Udayveer Singh, spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party, told The Sunday Guardian.

The BJP argues that the whole exercise of the SP will be futile as people have seen how the SP had converted UP into a Yadav raj during its regime. “People of non-Yadav OBC groups are not going to trust them as between 2012-2017, these groups suffered the most from the Samajwadi Gunda raj, BJP has given them hope and due representation. Out of 63 members of parliament from the party, 18 belongs to these caste groups. In the recent cabinet expansion of the central government, the party made SP Singh Baghel and B.L. Verma, two prominent OBC leaders, as ministers” Dinesh Dubey, a BJP leader based in Lucknow, told The Sunday Guardian.