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In U.P., Om Prakash Rajbhar denies alliance prospects with BJP, but keeps option open

Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar. File   | Photo Credit: RAJEEV BHATT

Two years after Om Prakash Rajbhar was sacked from the Uttar Pradesh government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after his rebellion before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the OBC leader seems to be inching towards his old ally again.

The speculation was triggered after Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar, the president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), called upon Swatantra Dev Singh, the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh president on Tuesday.

The SBSP chief described the one-hour meeting as a courtesy visit but admitted that politics was on the table.

“I come from the ‘pichdi jati’. He also comes from the ‘pichdi jati’. So we often have these courtesy meetings,” he said.

Also read: Welcome decision to sack me, says Om Prakash Rajbhar

Though Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar dismissed that he would ally with the BJP in 2022, he laced it with a caveat. Talking to a news channel he said he would consider an alliance with the BJP, if it fulfilled five demands laid down by him, including having an OBC Chief Minister.

“Let BJP implement these. After that I will think about it. But not before it. Because I have tasted betrayal,” he said.

He struck an alliance with the BJP in 2016, months before the 2017 Assembly election. The SBSP won four MLA seats, in exchange helping the BJP win many seats in Purvanchal as the Rajbhars are concentrated in that region.

However, in the months leading to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar turned rebel especially on the issue of sub-categorisation of OBC quota, which the State government left in the cold storage. He then contested separately but with no success.

Since then, he has stitched together an alliance of smaller parties, Bhagidhari Sankalp Morcha, which includes the AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi and outfits led by former Minister Babu Singh Kushwaha and other OBC leaders in the political wilderness.

On Wednesday, Arvind Rajbhar, the general secretary of the SBSP and Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar’s son, issued a statement ruling out an alliance with the BJP but claimed that the BJP had sent signals to the SBSP.

“The Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party will not have any alliance with the Bharatiya ‘Jhooth’ Party [BJP]. The meeting was personal. Yes, political discussion was held. BJP [U.P.] president said 2022 will be difficult without you,” Mr. Arvind Rajbhar said.

The SBSP had so far indicated that it was open to an alliance to either of the three main Opposition parties — the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress.

Responding to Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar’s fresh communication with the BJP, his ally AIMIM has made it clear it would part ways with him if he got into an alliance with the ruling party.

If Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar decided that the morcha would ally with the BJP, then the AIMIM would continue to stay on the ground here to stop the BJP, said Uttar Pradesh AIMIM president Shaukat Ali. “We will never go with the BJP,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 6:43:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-up-om-prakash-rajbhar-denies-alliance-prospects-with-bjp-but-keeps-option-open/article35717811.ece

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