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How Rajbhar's return to NDA will help the BJP in UP

By Arunav Sinha
July 16, 2023 18:50 IST
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The SBSP can impact around 10 Lok Sabha seats and 40 assembly seats in 7-8 districts in Uttar Pradesh, according to poll analysts.

IMAGE: Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party founder Om Prakash Rajbhar calls on Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in New Delhi on Sunday. He was accompanied by his son and party general secretary Arvind Rajbhar. Photograph: ANI Photo

The return of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar to the National Democratic Alliance fold after quitting the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance in 2019 will not surprise many as the OBC leader had indicated for months that his options were open.


The SBSP fought the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in alliance with the BJP and won four seats.

Rajbhar got a ministerial berth in the state cabinet, but his frequent outbursts left the BJP-led government embarrassed and the two parties parted ways during the last Lok Sabha polls.

In the 2022 UP Assembly election, the SBSP joined hands with the Samajwadi Party and won six seats but as the alliance failed to dislodge the BJP, it did not take long for the partners to start bickering.

In July 2022, when the Presidential elections were around the corner, cracks in the SP-led alliance were exposed as Rajbhar extended support to NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu, while the SP backed Yashwant Sinha.

A year later, the SBSP is now a part of the NDA.

The SBSP can impact around 10 Lok Sabha seats and 40 assembly seats in 7-8 districts in Uttar Pradesh, according to poll analysts.

While supporting Murmu in the presidential election, Rajbhar had then said that the party made the decision after appeals by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Murmu herself and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The SBSP chief, however, had then maintained that his six-MLA party is still part of the opposition grouping that fought the UP Assembly elections together.

"Murmu herself told me that she hails from the lowest strata of society and sought my support. Similar appeals were made by the chief minister...," Rajbhar had told reporters.

He had also expressed disappointment over the SP not inviting him to its July 7, 2022)press conference on the Opposition's joint candidate Yashwant Sinha.

"Akhilesh ji did not think about me or the vote," he had said.

A senior UP BJP leader told PTI that UP's Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak also played a role in bringing back the SBSP into the NDA.

On the day of polling for the Presidential election, Rajbhar accompanied Brajesh Pathak to cast his vote at the UP Vidhan Bhavan.

Pathak on Sunday told PTI, "The Samajwadi Party has been derailed, and the people of the state have rejected them. On the other hand, the BJP's clan ('kunbaa') is expanding with new people joining the NDA.

"Both public support and mandate are increasing (in favour of the BJP and NDA). We have come together for a larger goal."

He said that Samajwadi Party is now left with only two allies -- Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Apna Dal-Kamervadi -- and gradually, they will also leave the SP.

Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, in a tweet in Hindi, termed O P Rajbhar as 'an old friend of the BJP'.

National general secretary of SBSP Arvind Rajbhar, the elder son of the SBSP chief, after meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah said they discussed several issues including caste census, inclusion of Rajbhar caste in the Scheduled Castes category and expansion of the council of ministers in Uttar Pradesh.

"At the meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah a number of issues ranging from social justice, caste census, education, the inclusion of Rajbhar caste in the scheduled castes' category, upcoming Lok Sabha elections, expansion of the council of ministers in Uttar Pradesh and issues pertaining to health were discussed," he told PTI.

In May last year, Om Prakash Rajbhar had said that his ally Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has become too used to air-conditioned rooms and advised him to venture out more often to meet people.

"His leaders have told me that I should advise him (Akhilesh Yadav) so that he meets people, strengthens his party and shun his 'navratnas' (nine gems) who surround him," he said.

His falling out with the BJP was also not very pleasant. On May 18, 2019, the SBSP chief had urged supporters to thrash BJP workers with shoes.

The SBSP had fielded as many as 39 candidates in the state in the Lok Sabha elections that year. The state has 80 Lok Sabha seats.

On May 20, 2019, barely a day after polling ended in the Lok Sabha elections, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sacked Rajbhar from his cabinet as Backward Class Welfare and Divyangjan Empowerment Minister.

"By taking the decision, he (Adityanath) has proved he does not endorse my war against poverty," Rajbhar had told reporters.

The strain in ties had appeared months before. On November 19, 2018, Rajbhar accused the BJP-led government of denying funds to open schools for 'divyaangjan' (specially-abled people) in the state.

A day earlier he challenged the ruling party to dump him for daring 'to call a spade a spade'.

In October 2021, the SP and SBSP had announced their alliance for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls and gave the slogan 'Khadeda Hobe', a call to 'drive out' the BJP from the state.

The slogan was on the lines of 'Khela Hobe' (game on), which was coined by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress for the West Bengal assembly polls that saw the party defeat the BJP and storm back to power for a third consecutive term.

"Rajbhar will close the door through which the BJP came to power (in Uttar Pradesh) and SP workers will lock it," the SP chief had then said.

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Arunav Sinha
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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