Before the final countdown to the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has managed to placate its sulking allies in the high prized state of Uttar Pradesh, which is heading for a massive showdown during voting in April and May.
While SBSP president and UP cabinet minister Om Prakash Rajbhar had been openly giving statements against BJP leadership and even challenging the Yogi Adityanath government to sack him, Apna Dal (S) patron and union minister Anupriya Patel had also recently expressed dismay over the treatment meted out to her party by the BJP.
The spectre of losing two vital allies in UP, especially in the context of arch-rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) joining hands and Congress fielding its ‘trump card’ and now general secretary in charge of Eastern UP Priyanka Gandhi, the BJP foresaw the adverse impact it could suffer if SBSP and Apna Dal cut ties with the party.
Since these two parties represent the influential other backward castes (OBCs), the severance of ties would have given a negative message about BJP’s inclusive agenda before voting takes places. The two parties wield influence over a dozen OBC dominated assembly constituencies each in Eastern UP.
This Sunday, hours before the Election Commission of India (ECI) released the polls’ schedule, the Adityanath government appointed nearly 75 leaders as chairpersons and members of almost 2 dozen autonomous boards, commissions and corporations in UP. The new appointees included leaders belonging to the BJP allies.
For example, Rajbhar’s son Arvind was anointed the chairman of the UP Laghu Udyog Nigam Limited, while nearly half a dozen party leaders and supporters were adjusted in other entities.
Similarly, almost 9 Apna Dal leaders and supporters were rewarded with similar berths, which fetches the beneficiary protocol of a minister of state rank in UP.
“Our grouse with the BJP was not related to any posts, but over the paucity of funds for the welfare schemes of the OBCs,” Arun Rajbhar, SBSP leader and another son of O P Rajbhar, told Business Standard.
In a party meeting here yesterday presided over by Patel, Apna Dal (S) also passed a resolution to strengthen the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
However, the two allies are wary of ticket distribution, which could become another trigger point for trouble. “We have demanded 5 Lok Sabha seats in UP, including Chandauli, Ghosi, Ambedkar Nagar, Jaunpur and Salempur,” Arun Rajbhar informed. Interestingly, Chandauli is currently represented by UP BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey.