Patidar leader Hardik Patel is likely to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi. According to sources, the Samajwadi Party (SP)- Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are considering to name Patel as Mahagathbandhan’s candidate against Modi. Once sworn enemies of each other, Akhilesh Yadav’s SP and Mayawati’s BSP have forged a pre-poll alliance with other smaller parties to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh. They, however, dumped the main Opposition party Congress, saying the Grand Old Party does not have much significance in Uttar Pradesh.
Hardik Patel, who hails from Modi's home state Gujarat, had emerged as a rising political leader when he led the Patidar Reservation Agitation and addressed a massive rally in Gujarat's Visnagar in 2015. Soon, he became a household name and played a crucial role in 2017 Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections.
Although the chances of Patel winning against Modi looks bleak given the popularity of the prime minister in his constituency, but his candidature will indeed make the contest interesting. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when Narendra Modi's popularity was at its peak, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal dared to challenge him but lost miserably. Modi had trounced Kejriwal by a massive margin of 3.37 lakh votes. Modi had secured 5,16,593 votes as against the 1,79,739 votes of Kejriwal.
However, at that time, Congress and BSP had also fielded their own candidates in Varanasi but things may not be the same this time as SP and BSP have allied each other and given the fact the Patel had supported Congress in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi may also refrain from pitting his party candidate in Varanasi.
The development came ahead of the joint press conference by BSP chief Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Yadav at Lucknow’s Taj Hotel on Saturday. During the presser, the SP and BSP chiefs are likely to declare the seat-sharing formula for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Yadav had met BSP chief in New Delhi on January 3 to finalise the contours of the seat sharing agreement ahead of the general elections.
As per the seat-sharing pact reached, both the Samajwadi Party and the BSP will fight on 37 seats each and the six remaining seats will be given to smaller alliance partners like Chaudhary Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP).
Ajit Singh’s RLD and Rajbhar’s SBSP will get two seats each but if Rajbhar didn’t join the mega anti-BJP alliance, his share of two seats will be equally divided between the major allies.
Miffed with the Congress party, both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati do not want the Grand Old Party to be a part of the Grand Alliance. However, they will still not field any candidate against the Gandhies in their stronghold Amethi and Rae Bareli, the sources said.