'Will back BJP if CM nominee from backward community'

SBSP chief Rajbhar says party will ally with BJP if its CM nominee is from backward caste

He first said the chances of an alliance with the BJP are 'negligible' and vowed to 'root out' the party from the state

SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar. Credit: PTI file photo

Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, who leads a front of small parties in Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday said his outfit will ally with the BJP if it picks a backward caste leader as its chief minister candidate for next year's assembly polls.

The SBSP leader, once an ally of the BJP, made the remark after a meeting with BJP state president Swatantra Dev Singh and vice-president Dayashankar Singh that he initially described as a “courtesy call”.

He first said the chances of an alliance with the BJP are “negligible” and vowed to “root out” the party from the state in next year’s elections.

But Rajbhar went on to hold out the possibility of an alliance with the ruling party and BJP’s Dayashankar Singh predicted that the two parties will contest the 2022 polls together.

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Rajbhar, who had recently launched Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha as a political front of small parties, said, "The BJP is keen to forge an alliance with us. They think it is necessary to enter into an alliance with us to form the government again."

"If our demands, including announcement of a backward caste person as CM candidate, a census to collate the backward caste population, 33 per cent reservation, common & compulsory free education are met, then we can consider an alliance," the former minister said.

The BJP has a government in UP and at the Centre so it should not have problems in implementing our demands, he said.

"Till the BJP does not initiate on their part to fulfil our demands, how can things materialise?" he added.

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Earlier, Rajbhar told reporters after the meeting with the BJP state chief, "Swatantra Dev is a leader of backward classes and also the BJP state president. It was a courtesy meeting with him. We have personal relations. I had some work due to which I went there. There is no political meaning in this meeting."

BJP state vice-president Dayashankar, who was present in the meeting, said the talks between the leaders (Rajbhar and Swatantra Dev) were "positive" and claimed that both parties will contest elections together in 2022.

When asked about Dayashankar's claim, Rajbhar told PTI that there is "negligible" chance of a tie-up with the BJP.

When questioned if AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi will be angered on entering an alliance with the BJP, Rajbhar said, "There is no chance of Owaisi being angry as his decision will be benefitting the Muslim comunity."

The AIMIM had recently announced that it would contest 100 seats in the polls next year by tying up with Rajbhar-led SBSP and its Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha.

The SBSP had contested the 2017 Assembly polls in alliance with the BJP but parted ways before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Rajbhar-led party won four seats in the previous assembly polls, when it contested as an ally of the BJP. Rajbhar, who was cabinet minister, resigned before the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.

The Rajbhars constitute 20 per cent of the Poorvanchal population and are regarded as the second-most politically dominant community after the Yadavs in eastern UP.

After launching the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha, the SBSP chief had said that it would contest the 2022 assembly polls and that the doors of the front were open for the SP, BSP and Congress.