In yet another setback to the Opposition ahead of the Presidential election, the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) led by Om Prakash Rajbhar, a key ally of the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh, announced its support for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu on July 15.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Mr. Rajbhar said Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had sought his support for Ms. Murmu, who comes from the tribal community, and his party had decided to support her. He maintained that he was still with the SP-led Opposition alliance on other issues.
Signs of discomfort in the Uttar Pradesh Opposition alliance have been visible for a while. Mr. Rajbhar attended a dinner hosted by the BJP in honour of Ms. Murmu in Lucknow last week and was not present at the meeting held by SP in support of the Opposition’s joint candidate Yashwant Sinha that was attended Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary. The SBSP has six members in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Rajbhar did not respond to requests from The Hindu for a comment on the issue.
This is the latest of several friction points between the SP and Mr. Rajbhar since the Lok Sabha bypolls and Rajya Sabha and Council elections where the SBSP was denied representation.
Earlier, Mr. Sinha’s presidential bid faced a setback after two major Opposition parties, the Shiv Sena and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, decided to support the NDA nominee.
Eligible members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies will vote to elect the next President of India on July 18. The counting of votes will take place on July 21.