Alliance trouble forces BJP to scouts for new friends

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth. PTI

The BJP in Uttar Pradesh has started looking for new friends.

Those, especially, the caste-based outfits are ideal as it plans to counter a possible grand alliance of the Opposition parties in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The friend-hunting exercise comes after the Apna Dal (AD) and the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) started demanding more number of seats.

According to sources, the saffron party is also eyeing the ''rebels'' within the AD and the SBSP to ''weaken'' the bargaining power of the two alliance partners.

The SBSP has already split with Madan Rajbhar forming his own outfit after separating from UP minister Om Prakash Rajbhar. The AD has also undergone a split.

Sources said that some BJP leaders wanted the party to initiate talks with Ajeet Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) despite the fact that the latter had expressed willingness to join the Opposition alliance.

''The RLD could compensate the loss of the AD and the SBSP... An electoral alliance with the RLD can ensure support of the powerful Jat community in the western region of the state,'' a senior UP BJP leader told DH in Lucknow on Tuesday.

Besides the saffron party was also eyeing some smaller caste-based outfits in the state.

Sources said that the BJP was not averse to giving the nomination to the members of these outfits at places where the latter has good numbers, though on its own election symbol.

BJP leaders cite the example of Praveen Nishad, who was fielded by the Samajwadi Party (SP) from Gorakhpur, the hometown of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in the Lok Sabha bypolls from the seat last year.

Praveen, who is the son of Nishad Party president Sanjay Nishad, defeated the BJP nominee. He had contested on the SP symbol.

Similarly in last year's Kairana Lok Sabha bypolls, too, SP leader Tabassum Hasan had contested on the RLD symbol and had emerged victorious.

It remains to be seen if the BJP's efforts to ally with caste-based outfits succeeds in challenging the powerful regional straps— Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati.

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