Amid indications by the BJP on trying to induct more Other Backward Class (OBC) leaders before 2024 election in Uttar Pradesh, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief and former saffron party ally Om Prakash Rajbhar shared stage with Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak on Wednesday in Ballia in a function where Mr. Pathak described the SBSP president as a permanent friend. On mediaperspns’ queries, Mr. Pathak said, “Rajbhar Ji is my permanent friend,”. Both the leaders were taking part in an inauguration of a hospital in the district.
Since breaking alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) during the Presidential polls, Mr. Rajbhar is continuously showing his inclination towards the saffron party. He supported the BJP’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu and has backed the government on multiple issues.
Observers who are following the developments argue that sooner or later Mr. Rajbhar may move towards the BJP alliance in the politically crucial State which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha. “The joining of SBSP helped the SP to create a narrative of backward consolidation in a limited scale and increase its seat and vote share in 2022 Assembly poll. The SBSP might not have a large support base, but it has some support in at least 30-35 Assembly segment and about 10 parliamentary segment. The BJP will try to get the party on its side before 2024 poll; the statements and indications are verifying it,” said Sumit Kumar, a social scientist.
The SBSP, a political party formed by Mr. Rajbhar in 2002, has sizable support among the Rajbhar community in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Rajbhars constitute roughly 4% of the State’s electorate. The party calls for the inclusion of the community in the list of Scheduled Castes. The SBSP formed an alliance with the SP in 2022 Assembly poll and fought on 19 seats winning six. In 2017, the SBSP contested the election in alliance with the BJP and won four seats.