2022 UP polls: Rajbhar tapping smaller players to expand Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha’s reach

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: Estranged Yogi government minister and president of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) Om Prakash Rajbhar is making all-out efforts to rope in more partners, smaller though,  to his Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha in order to make it a force to reckon in the 2022 assembly elections in UP.

However, despite having an image of a tough bargainer, Rajbhar has emerged as an ‘untouchable’ among the big political players in UP.

After stitching an alliance with All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), led by Asaduddin Owaisi, Rajbhar met Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad recently and invited him to join the outfit to expand its reach in the western UP as well.

“The Bhim Army chief has given his consent to join the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha,” claimed Rajbhar. Azad has formed the Azad Samaj Party in March 2020 to take part in electoral politics.

Initially, Rajbhar tried to stitch alliances with mainstream parties like Samajwadi Party and even the Congress in order to get acknowledged in the political landscape of Uttar Pradesh ahead of assembly polls but his efforts did not bear fruits since he joined hands with Owaisi.

ALSO READ | 2022 UP polls: BJP applying its tried and tested strategy of fortifying booths

Moreover, parties decided to keep Rajbhar at an arm’s length after his meeting with BJP state chief Swatantra Dev Singh last month.

That meeting annoyed not only AIMIM chief Owaisi, who intends to contest on 100 seats in UP but also shaken the confidence of the likes of the Samajwadi Party. According to a senior Samajwadi Party leader, it was difficult to ascertain which way would Rajbhar go. “There is no guarantee that the SBSP chief will stand with us after winning election in the alliance. In this scenario, going with a person whose loyalty is questionable will not be a wise decision,” he said.

Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is believed to be completely averse to an alliance with any person who has aligned with AIMIM since he thinks that Owaisi’s party may dent the Muslim vote bank of SP.

OP Rajbhar’s SBSP had contested Assembly polls in alliance with the BJP and had won four seats in the Assembly for the first time in 2017.

However, having failed to get favourable responses from the main parties, the Morcha is trying to gain strength by approaching other players in the field.

AIMIM chief Owaisi is also doing his bit and met Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) president Shivpal Singh Yadav at his Lucknow residence two days back. The political scientist believe that Shivpal Yadav was finding it difficult to join hands with the Bhagidari Morcah or strike an alliance with any other party as he was still waiting for Samajwadi Party to take a call on an alliance with PSPL and that he does not want to jeopardize any possibility.

The highly placed sources in PSPL claimed that Shivpal was being pressured by SP patriarch and brother Mulayam Singh Yadav to bury the hatchet with Akhilesh Yadav and join hands before the 2022 assembly elections.

However, Akhilesh has been non-committal on the formal alliance with PSPL saying that his party would consider leaving a few seats for the winnable PSPL candidates.