UP votes over seven phases of polling that begin February 10, with results due on March 10

New Delhi:

Hit by multiple desertions – mostly of its OBC leaders – last week, the BJP on Wednesday showcased its allies – the Nishad Party and the Apna Dal (S) – ahead of next month’s Uttar Pradesh election, although it refused to reveal seat-sharing details.

Party chief JP Nadda only said “we are allying with them for all 403 seats (in the UP Assembly)”.

Both the Apna Dal (S) and Nishad Party, which represent eastern UP OBC communities, are old allies of the BJP in UP; the Apna Dal (S) has been an ally since 2014 and the Nishad Party since 2019.

“BJP in UP is with NDA (National Democratic Alliance) partners for the upcoming election. We were together for Lok Sabha too… detailed discussions have been held and we are allying with them for all 403 seats (in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly),” BJP chief JP Nadda told reporters.

Apna Dal (S) leader Anupriya Patel, a junior Union Minister and a Lok Sabha MP, called the BJP-Apna Dal-Nishad Party alliance a “great cocktail of development and social justice”.

“We have always struggled for justice for the common man. With PM Modi we realised we can strengthen social justice… issues like OBC commission…reservation for backward classes… we got support from this government. So we decided this alliance will be taken forward in 2022,” she said.

“Backward classes were being betrayed and orphaned… only meagre reservation in jobs was there but this government helped… gave it in educational institutions too. In UP, parties kept changing but backward classes’ condition did not. Issues that remained unresolved for 70 years are being resolved under this government,” Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party said.

The show of support – and the smaller parties’ remarks on Prime Minister Modi working for OBC communities – was significant given the BJP last week lost nearly a dozen MLAs.

Underlining that message of togetherness was a tweet by Home Minister Amit Shah: “Had a meeting with JP Nadda, Yogi Adityanath and allies Anupriya Patel and Sanjay Nishad. Blessings of the people of UP are with NDA and under PM Modi, we will form the government with a thumping majority.”

Over a 72-hour period last week the BJP lost 10 MLAs and three ministers, most of whom jumped to the Samajwadi Party. Reports suggest the loss has emboldened both Apna Dal (S) and the Nishad Party, which may be why talks over seat-sharing are likely continuing behind the scenes.

In 2017 the Apna Dal (S) was given 11 seats and won nine.

This time around reports suggest Ms Patel is angling for more, particularly since she has kept faith in the BJP even as others, including Omprakash Rajbhar, who joined Akhilesh Yadav last year, have not.

Apna Dal (S) Working President Ashish Patel told news agency ANI yesterday the party had submitted demands for 36 seats. “We want to register as a state party,” Mr Patel said.

In 2017, the Nishad Party, fighting independently, fared terribly, contesting 72 seats but winning just one – Vijay Mishra won from Gyanpur. Mr Nishad himself finished third from Gorakhpur (rural).

This time Mr Nishad claims the BJP has agreed to give him 15 seats but talks are ongoing over two or three more.

“Around 15 seats are fixed for us while discussions are going for two-three more seats…” Mr Nishad was quoted by ANI, adding, “… we have no problem in giving the seats to BJP.”

The BJP, meanwhile, has announced a first list of 107 candidates for the first two phases of polls.

The big announcement from there was Yogi Adityanath to contest (in his first Assembly election) from his stronghold of Gorakhpur (urban), from where he was made a Lok Sabha MP five times.

UP votes over seven phases of polling that begin February 10, with results due on March 10.

With input from ANI

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