Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has virtually ruled out an alliance with either the BSP or the Congress for the 2022 Assembly election.
At a press conference in Etawah on Saturday, he said he was more keen on having “adjustments” with smaller parties, including the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia (PSPL) run by his estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav. “Chote dalo se adjustment hoga. Lekin bade dalo se koi gathbandhan nahi hoga [We will have adjustments with smaller parties. There will be no alliance with major parties],” he said.
In an indication that he was ready to patch up with Mr. Shivpal Yadav, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav said he was willing to make “adjustments” with his party and Mr. Shivpal Yadav would be rewarded with a berth in the Cabinet if the SP returned to power in 2022.
Mr. Shivpal Yadav, an MLA from Jaswant Nagar, founded the PSPL before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, after a family feud that stretched from Mr. Akhilesh Yadav’s tenure as Chief Minister.
Mr. Akhilesh Yadav also said that in 2022, he would leave the Jaswant Nagar seat for his uncle.
In the recent byelections to seven seats in Uttar Pradesh, the PSPL did not field any candidate, triggering speculation that it was on course to a patch-up with the SP. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the PSPL had fielded candidates, denting the SP’s prospects in some regions and prompting the BJP and the BSP to highlight the infighting.
Mr. Shivpal Yadav has stressed that though he will not merge his party with the SP, he is open to a pre-poll alliance with it. “Our priority is [an alliance with] the SP,” he said last week.
With the SP, the BSP and the Congress still wrangling for the slot of top contender, the role of smaller parties is likely to be crucial for both the BJP and its opponents in 2022.
The BJP has the support of the Kurmi-based Apna Dal and the Nishad Party, which is rooted in the Mallah communities that are in the OBC category.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which contested in the 2018 Kairana byelection along with the SP and the BSP and in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in the same alliance, has indicated that despite the collapse of the SP-BSP alliance, it will continue to work with the SP. In a recent interview to The Hindu, RLD vice-president Jayant Chaudhary said his party would continue to ally with the SP, with Mr. Akhilesh Yadav being the candidate for Chief Minister.
However, in the recent byelection from Bulandshahr, the RLD candidate, backed by the SP, finished fifth, polling 7,132 votes, standing even behind Aazad Samaj Party, a fresh entrant of which role in 2022 would worth watching because it poses a threat to the BSP’s core vote base of Jatavs.
Without naming anyone, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday said the SP would attempt to build an understanding with parties “with whom we are in touch, have already spoken to or have helped [us] in some instances.”
Talking to The Hindu, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) general secretary Arun Rajbhar said the party was willing to form an alliance with those having “similar ideologies”, but did not commit himself to an alliance with the SP. “Our options are open. If they [the SP] come to us on our terms, offering a respectable number of seats, and if they want to work on our principles and agenda, we will go with them.”
In 2016, the BJP formed an alliance with the SBSP, which commands influence among the Rajbhar caste (in the OBC category) concentrated in Purvanchal. But after the Yogi Adityanath government was formed, SBSP chief Om Prakash turned a rebel. He was dismissed from the Cabinet after the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The SBSP was part of the six-party Grand Democratic Secular Alliance that won six seats in the recent Bihar Assembly election.
Meanwhile, BSP leader Mayawati has appointed Bheem Rajbhar as State president in place of former MP Munquad Ali. Mr. Rajbhar had unsuccessfully contested the 2012 Assembly election from Mau.