“Caste politics is a necessity in UP,” Apna Dal (S) chief Anupriya Patel said

New Delhi:

Apna Dal (Sonelal) chief Anupriya Patel has indicated the BJP-led alliance in Uttar Pradesh, which includes her party, is interested in bringing in Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar back into the National Democratic Alliance, or NDA.

Ms Patel’s Apna Dal has a support base among Kurmis in eastern UP and is currently the BJP’s biggest ally in the state. The alliance dates back to the 2014 national elections, when the BJP won 71 of the state’s 80 seats. Apna Dal had added two more seats to the tally.

“It would help if Rajbhar re-joined the NDA,” Ms Patel told NDTV today.

Mr Rajbhar’s party, SBSP, was in an alliance with the BJP in the last UP assembly election, after which he was even made a minister in the state government. But he left the NDA just before the general elections in 2019.

Ms Patel’s indication that the NDA would benefit from the SBSP chief’s re-entry comes days after the BJP’s attempt to get Rashtriya Lok Dal, or RLD, chief Jayant Chaudhary, who has allied with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.

Mr Rajbhar’s party enjoys the support of Other Backward Classes, while Mr Chaudhary’s party is strong in western UP, where Jats are a deciding factor in almost all the seats.

“Caste politics is a necessity in UP. We can’t say for sure everyone in UP will vote for us,” Ms Patel said. On her party’s alliance with the BJP, she added, “The BJP has its own ideology and we have our own… Apna Dal stands for the poor and minorities.”

She denied there was a split in the Other Backward Classes vote this time.

Ms Patel’s mother Krishna Patel, who heads a breakaway faction of the party, is partnering Samajwadi Party.

On her mother’s Patel’s allegations that she is cheating the Kurmi community, Ms Patel said, “My father formed the party in 1995 and my party has not deviated from the values and principles and the search for social justice by which he steered his party. You check our history… We have not made any compromises…  my community knows what I am doing for them.”

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