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BJP ally predicts 2019 drubbing

Backward class welfare minister Om Prakash Rajbhar said the BJP will pay for poor functioning

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow

  • Published 15.10.18, 2:48 AM
  • Updated 16.10.18, 8:07 AM
Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (PTI)

One of Yogi Adityanath’s ministers and allies has predicted a BJP defeat in the general election, due next summer.

“Let the elections take place; you will see how the BJP receives a drubbing,” backward class welfare minister Om Prakash Rajbhar, president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, said at a public meeting in Ballia on Saturday evening.

Rajbhar, whose party claims to represent the most backward castes (MBCs) and has four Assembly seats, later told reporters: “The poor functioning of the BJP government will be an election issue. The people are unhappy and the BJP’s defeat is inevitable.

“The MBCs defeated the BJP in the Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana parliamentary by-elections; now they will defeat the BJP in the general election.”

On Sunday, Rajbhar followed it up by mocking the BJP for allegedly “pressuring me to merge my party with theirs”.

“They have forgotten that I helped them win 125 Assembly seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh last year by uniting the MBCs,” he told reporters. “So I offered the BJP a chance to merge with my party instead.”

Rajbhar had earlier this year accused the BJP of forgetting the people after its poll victories — “like Ram forgot his monkey army after conquering Lanka” — and called Adityanath’s government corrupt and non-functional. Rajbhar’s closeness to BJP president Amit Shah has so far forced the chief minister to swallow the barbs.

However, the ally’s non-stop attacks on the Narendra Modi and Adityanath governments have raised a question over the continued success of the BJP strategy of tying up with backward-caste parties.

That strategy has already received a setback from the Apna Dal, a party with a Kurmi vote bank with which the BJP had allied before the 2014 general election. The Dal won two Lok Sabha seats and later bagged nine Assembly seats in 2017.

Since then, it has suffered a split with party chief Krishna Patel, wife of party founder Sone Lal Patel, expelling her daughter Anupriya and six others.

Krishna now heads the Apna Dal and Anupriya, junior health and family welfare minister in the Modi government, is president of Apna Dal (Sonelal). Krishna is said to be considering a tie-up with the Congress or some other BJP rival.

Rajbhar on Sunday also criticised the Adityanath government’s allotment of a palatial bungalow to former Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav and its recommendation to the Centre to grant him Z-plus security.

“Shivpal is anti-MBC. He snatched the MBCs’ rights and gave them to only one caste (Yadavs) when he was PWD minister (in the Akhilesh Yadav government),” Rajbhar said. “The BJP’s strategy to tie up with him will fail.”

Shivpal, who has left the Samajwadi Party after a falling out with nephew Akhilesh, floated the Samajwadi Secular Morcha in August. He denies secretly working for the BJP.

Rajbhar said: “Those associated with Shivpal till a few days ago have deserted him because of his closeness to the BJP.”