Rajbhar ready to ally with Samajwadi Party in UP

Less than a day after Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav said that he was open to alliances with small parties for the upcoming UP assembly elections, former BJP ally, Om Prakash Rajbhar, said that he was also ready to ally with the SP.

Rajbhar told reporters that his coalition of smaller parties – Bhagidaari Sankalp Morcha (BSM) – was open to a tie-up with any opposition party, including the SP if it agrees to fulfil its demands, including quota for various sub-castes within the OBC community.

“Our party is open to alliances for defeating BJP,” he said and added that the alliance needed to be forged at the earliest.

The development comes a day after BSP veteran, Sukhdeo Rajbhar, announced his retirement from active politics, and endorsed his son Kamalkant Rajbhar’s decision to join the SP.

Another BSP leader, Ram Achal Rajbhar, who was recently expelled by Mayawati, is also reported to be moving towards the SP. This could bolster the Rajbhar community’s support to Akhilesh, while he widens space to other OBC sub-castes other than his core Yadav vote-bank.

Om Prakash Rajbhar, who heads the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has been exploring options to cobble up alliances to consolidate the Rajbhar vote-bank, which account for 7 per cent of the total OBC votes and has significant political presence in most assembly seats, essentially in the socio-economically backward eastern UP.

The Bhagidaari Sankalp Morcha (BSM) formed by Rajbhar includes eight other parties, including Krishna Patel’s Apna Dal, Jan Adhikar Party and Chandra Shekhar’s Azad Samaj Party.

Rajbhar’s attempt to take on board AIMIM chief Asaddudin Owaisi, however, suffered a setback when the Hyderabad MP unilaterally announced fielding 100 candidates in the upcoming UP elections.

Experts said, SBSP faces a test of its political presence even as BJP escalates measures to woo the Rajbhar community by propping up its own leaders like cabinet minister Anil Rajbhar and Rajya Sabha MP Sakaldeep Rajbhar.