BJP veteran Kalyan Singh delivered a shocker to his party on Sunday, a day before it was to finalise the Lok Sabha candidates in its central election committee, when he sent feelers to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh.
The move may be an attempt by Kalyan to put pressure on the saffron leadership to accept his demand of keeping Ashok Pradhan, another BJP man, out of the fray, but party insiders do not rule out his leaving the BJP before the general elections.
Kalyan is upset with Pradhan’s candidature from Bulandshahar, which he represents in the present Lok Sabha. His candidature has already been announced from Etah. Kalyan blames Pradhan for the defeat of his son Rajbir from Dibai Assembly constituency in Bulandshahr in the 2007 elections. “I do not want the daghis and baghis to be fielded. Pradhan had worked against the BJP in the previous assembly elections,” he is said to have told many party leaders.
Central leaders said they had accommodated Kalyan by giving a Rajya Sabha seat to his close associate, Kusum Rai. But Kalyan claims she got it on her own merit. “Why can’t the BJP accept my wish for only one seat?”
Kalyan’s USP is that he still enjoys the support of the Lodhs, an OBC community.
For Mulayam, having Kalyan on his side would ensure all backward class votes are united to defeat the Mayawati-led BSP in the Lok Sabha polls.
For BJP leaders, however, Kalyan is no longer the towering leader he was at the height of the Ram temple agitation.
If Kalyan decides to leave the BJP, it will not be for the first time.
In 1999, opposing A.B. Vajpayee, Kalyan had quit the BJP to form his Rashtriya Kranti Party, which aligned with the Samajwadi Party to upset the BJP in the central-western Uttar Pradesh region.