A third front is likely to emerge in the politically significant State of Uttar Pradesh with Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar looking to forge an alliance with the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Speaking exclusively to The Hindu after severing ties with the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Sunday, Mr. Rajbhar said, “After July 27, we will meet Mayawati ji and request her to take the lead in forming a larger coalition of Dalits and Extremely Backward Caste (EBC) groups, which have been continuously ignored by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the SP.”
The SBSP chief said smaller EBC groups such as Nishad, Pal and Baghel did not have sizeable numbers individually but their combined strength would account for 40% of the electorate. “If we secure the BSP’s support, then this alliance would be a winnable coalition. I want to play an active role in building such a platform in the State,” he said.
The BSP did not respond to requests for comment on a possible alliance with the SBSP.
Mr. Rajbhar’s decision to snap ties with the SP was taken a day after the Akhilesh Yadav-led party sent separate letters to him and Shivpal Yadav of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) that said they were free to end the alliance with the party.
Backing NDA candidate
The development came after Mr. Rajbhar and Mr. Shivpal Yadav backed the National Democratic Alliance‘s Presidential candidate, Droupadi Murmu, who defeated Yashwant Sinha, the joint candidate of the Opposition supported by the SP.
The SBSP had fought the 2022 Assembly election in alliance with the SP, winning six of the 19 seats it had contested in eastern Uttar Pradesh. However, the alliance’s failure to dislodge the BJP from power led to speculation about it falling apart.
In its letter to Mr. Rajbhar, the SP said it was fighting the BJP in the State while the SBSP chief’s “nexus with the BJP” was strengthening the ruling party. Mr. Rajbhar said, “I won’t say that Akhilesh Yadav cheated me, but he cheated the downtrodden, Extremely Backward Caste groups and Muslims who had high hopes from him. He neglected them by not giving them proper representation.”
According to political observers, with a majority of seats in this year's Assembly poll witnessing bipolar contests between the BJP and the SP, such caste calculations may not translate into a winnable electoral alliance.
Badri Narayan, a noted social scientist who is associated with the Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute in the State, said, “All these calculations failed in the last Assembly poll as identity politics based on caste is changing. Mayawati has potential, but such an alliance will need something more than caste.”
Political analysts point out that the SBSP is a relatively new political party that has not tasted much electoral success in the State, while the BSP has lost considerable support since 2014, winning only one seat with 12.88% vote share in the recent Assembly poll.