The BJP's key allies in Uttar Pradesh, the Apna Dal and the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) have expressed "displeasure" with the ruling party for allegedly not taking care of its alliance partners and said they were "open" to take their own course of action in the run-up to the Lok Sabha Elections 2019. While the Apna Dal said it was "free to make its own decision", the SBSP went a step ahead asserting that its option to join the SP-BSP alliance in the state for the upcoming general elections was open.
Speaking to reporters in Bareilly, Apna Dal leader and Union minister Anupriya Patel said, "Some differences cropped up between the Apna Dal and the BJP. We had given them time till February 20 to resolve the issues, but there is no answer from the BJP. It appears they are not interested in taking care of their allies".
"Now, the Apna Dal is free to make its own decision. A party meeting has been called to chalk out our future course of action," Patel added. The Apna Dal, a crucial ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, had won two seats - Mirzapur and Pratapgarh in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.
In Ballia, Uttar Pradesh minister and SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar also accused the BJP of creating confusion and not fulfilling his party's demands, and said the option for his outfit to join the SP-BSP alliance in the state for the upcoming general elections was "open".
The SBSP, which has four MLAs in the 403-member Assembly, had contested the Uttar Pradesh civic polls separately. Rajbhar said he was in talks with TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati, and a decision on retaining or severing ties with the BJP would be taken after February 24.
Rajbhar had last week written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to give up the charge of the backward class welfare department, expressing disappointment that his recommendations on the appointment of state backward castes panel members have been "ignored".
However, on February 17, the SBSP chief said his offer to give up the charge of the department was not accepted by the chief minister, who had assured him that the matter would be looked into. "The BJP is creating confusion. I am not satisfied with the talks with him (BJP chief). Discussions are going on for a number of days... They are promising but not fulfilling our demands," alleged Rajbhar, who had recently met BJP national president Amit Shah.
Asked about the possibility of him parting ways with the BJP, he said, "The option of tying up with the SP-BSP alliance or with any other party is open. We can go anywhere."
"I am in talks with West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati. I will decide on leaving or remaining with the BJP on February 24." the SBSP chief told reporters in Lucknow.
On February 10, the party had threatened to part ways with the saffron party if the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government does not implement a social justice panel's recommendation to classify various OBC and Dalit sub-castes into three broad categories and provide quota within quota to them. "It is implemented in Bihar and nine other states. Then why can it not be put into effect in Uttar Pradesh," Rajbhar asked.
The committee, constituted in May last year, had in its recommendations to the state government, favoured classification of various OBC and Dalit sub-castes into three broad categories, backward, very backward and most backward, and provide quota within quota to them.
Backward classes account for about 44 per cent of the electorate in the state and play a crucial role in making or marring political prospects of any party. The panel's recommendation to is likely to spice up the political scene in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.