Spurred by Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav’s perceived weakening of hold over the Muslim electorate and to tap the divided Hindu vote, “secular parties” have re-initiated moves to cobble up an alternative political front in the run-up to Uttar Pradesh assembly elections due early next year.
Back channel talks between leaders of the Congress and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal(United) have intensified in the past few weeks following the Dalit thrashing incident in Gujarat’s Una town. Emissaries of the two parties have also re-established contact with smaller groups, including Mohammad Ayub’s Peace Party and the Krishna Patel faction of the Apna Dal.
Patel, however, remained non-committal on the move, saying the issue will be discussed at the “right time”. Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh who is facing political isolation with diminishing influence in western UP could become a part of the front to stay relevant.
Recent trends indicate SP’s loosing hold over minority voters, with representatives of nine Muslim groups having recently decided to come together under one roof to oppose Yadav’s party. “The alternative secular front will emerge as the largest grouping and even SP will be compelled to support this formation,” predicted Ayub, the front’s convener.
The Congress believes it could tap the growing disenchantment among Dalits, Muslims and Brahmins. “In case of a hung assembly, this grouping can play kingmaker,” a UP Congress leader said.