Away From Media Glare, BJP Is Silently Putting Together Mini-Alliances In UP 

by Dr A.K Verma - Feb 7, 2017 05:58 PM +05:30 IST
Away From Media Glare, BJP Is Silently Putting Together Mini-Alliances In UP A BJP meeting in Uttar Pradesh(SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • It is by now clear that the BJP is fighting this election one constituency at a time. Given that, this does not seem to a bad move. 

The Congress-Samajwadi Party coalition for the Uttar Pradesh polls has drawn much attention; yet, early indications are that both the alliance partners may turn out to be on the losing side. However, what is not being talked about are the alliances that the BJP has attempted with lesser-known, smaller parties like the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) of Om Prakash Rajbhar and Apna Dal (AD) of Anupriya Patel. These parties have limited presence in certain areas, but represent marginalised sections of committed voters.

While the SBSP primarily represents the Rajbhars in eastern UP, the AD represents the Kurmis and the Patels throughout the state. These caste groups are made of committed voters. The SBSP contested 52 assembly seats in 2012 and got 477330 votes. Assuming that it got only Rajbhar votes, the average works out to be approximately 9200 Rajbhars per contested constituency. And, BJP lost about 30 assembly seats in eastern UP by small margins in that election.

This article is part of our special coverage of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh 
This article is part of our special coverage of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh 

Similarly, AD is a marginal player representing Kurmis/Patels but could make a significant contribution to the BJP’s electoral fortune. In the 2014 Lok Sabha (LS) polls, BJP had a pre-poll coalition with AD that created an impression that Kurmis/Patels in particular, and lower OBCs in general, were with BJP throughout UP. That not only fetched 55 per cent Kurmi votes for BJP but also 60 per cent of the lower OBCs votes. BJP won 71 out of the 80 LS seats in 2014.

The SBSP and AD may be the significant add-ons to BJP’s vote share throughout the state.

The BJP has also roped in some other marginal players like the Rashtriya Mahan Gantantra Party (RMGP) whose leader Kanhaiya Lal Nishad has been given a BJP ticket from the Atraulia constituency in eastern UP. The party has its presence in seats like Badaun, Etah, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Farrukhabad, Kasganj and enjoys support of the politically active, most-backward communities like the Shakyas, Mauryas, Kushwahas and Sainis.

This pre-poll alliance of the BJP with the SBSP, AD and RMGP could be a game-changer in many seats as it is likely that these parties would ensure a vote transfer to BJP’s account. Interestingly, the social chemistry of this alliance is further reinforced by the BJP’s upward and downward strategic trajectories. Upwards, the BJP has roped in star leaders of these communities like Keshav Prasad Maurya, Swami Prasad Maurya, Anupriya Patel, R K. Chaudhury etc and, downwards, the party has allocated 41 per cent tickets to the ‘more-backwards’ and ‘most-backwards’ classes, which is in proportion to their share in the population of the state.

So, while Akhilesh and Rahul may demonstrate their cosmetic chemistry, the BJP is going for silent alliances at the grassroots level to counter the SP-Congress pre-poll tie up.

A K Verma is Director, Centre for the Study of Society and Politics, Kanpur.

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