Express News Service

LUCKNOW: After having a bitter experience by joining hands with bigwigs like Congress in the 2017 Assembly polls and the BSP in the 2019 General elections, Samajwadi Party is now following the BJP strategy of taking smaller parties to regain power in Uttar Pradesh.

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav has been giving indications about going for alliance only with the smaller parties to defeat the mighty BJP and come back in the saddle in UP polls due early next year.

On possible alliances, Akhilesh Yadav had recently said that the doors of his party were open for all small parties. Many smaller parties were already with him. More would come in the fold.

On his 47th birthday recently, former CM Akhilesh Yadav had said:  “My party is willing to work with the smaller parties to defeat the BJP. We will take such forces on board.” Interestingly, the SP is already in an alliance with the Jat-based Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), a party having some clout in western UP. In fact, RLD is looking at capitalising on the ongoing farmers’ protest against the BJP in UP polls.

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Akhilesh is also said to have kept his doors open for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). His recent meeting with AAP MP Sanjay Singh further fuelled this speculation.

“The basic idea behind having a possible truck with AAP is that it can split the BJP’s votes into urban areas,” said a senior SP leader. However, AAP also expressed its willingness to work with a non-BJP front but putting the onus of building such a front rests on the principal opposition –the Samajwadi Party.

No doubt in the tough battle ahead, Akhilesh realises the significance of these smaller caste-based political outfits, which can be the deciding factor between a victory and defeat on many seats. Alliances with caste-based diminutive parties can also give him the necessary expansion beyond his Muslim-Yadav vote base.

Consequently, recently the Samajwadi Party chief took western UP-based Mahan Dal on board. In the 2019 general elections, Mahan Dal had aligned with the Congress but failed to cut much ice among the voters.

While the Yadavs have consolidated with the SP, the Kurmis have been with the BJP since 2014 and are still seen largely with it. However, the floating vote comes for other backward castes like Mauryas, Rajhar, Nishad, Kashyap, etc, who see themselves as the MBCs and discards in the larger OBC narrative.

While Akhilesh keeps his estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav’ on tenterhooks and despite Shivpal willingness to join the SP bandwagon, Akhilesh has not been giving him much attention. However, Shivpal’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party – Lohia had given a big dent to SP prospects in 2019.

On the other hand, ‘Bhagidari Morcha’ led by Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has also shown its eagerness to join hands with SP in 2022, but Akhilesh has not committed anything so far because of the presence of AIMIM leader Assaduddin Owaisi in the Bhagidari Morcha.

“SP fears that AIMIM will split its Muslim vote bank, thereby, helping the BJP,” says Prof AK Mishra, a political scientist.