The smaller political parties, which have pockets of influence in the state, on Sunday announced the launch of a united front immediately after the Samajwadi Party-Congress sealed its alliance for the assembly election.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) president Ajit Singh, who launched an alliance of 15 political parties on Friday, played a pivotal role in bringing Janata Dal (U) president Nitish Kumar, Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Deve Gowda and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar into the coalition.
Mahan Dal chief Keshvdas Maurya and Bahujan Samaj Swabhiman Sangharsh Samiti (BS-4) president RK Chaudhary have also given their consent to join the front. Maurya met Ajit Singh at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday and discussed seat sharing.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) general secretary Triloki Tyagi told HT, “Our front is the real grand alliance. We have brought the old Janata Dal and socialist leaders on a single platform. We will field candidates for 403 assembly seats.”
Terming the SP-Congress alliance opportunistic, Tyagi said, “Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and RLD chief Ajit Singh will do a Bihar in UP by ensuring the defeat of communal and casteist forces.”
The RLD released a list of 53 candidates on Sunday. The alliance partners have been told to release the list of candidates on the seats allotted to them, said RLD state unit president Dr Masood Ahmed.
A senior JD (U) leader said, “After the Election Commission settled the Samajwadi Party (SP) symbol dispute in favour of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, we hoped the warmth between the SP and Congress will pave the way for a grand alliance led by Akhilesh in which the smaller parties will get a place and have a say in ticket distribution,” he said.
“Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh Yadav was not open to an alliance and he often criticised Akhilesh Yadav’s efforts to rope in like-minded secular parties. We hoped that after taking the reins of his party, Akhilesh will let in smaller parties having secular credentials,” an RLD leader said.
The JD (U) that played a pivotal role in forming a grand alliance with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar was surprised at its non-inclusion in the SP- Congress front. Political strategist Prashant Kishor, who prepared the plan of the grand alliance victory in Bihar, was on the centre stage of the SP-Congress alliance too.
A JD (U) leader, who did not wish to be named, said, “We fail to understand that Kishor, who is considered close to Nitish Kumar, failed to bring the JD (U) on board.”
Suresh Niranjan Bhaiyaji, the JD (U) UP president, told HT:
“We are waiting and watching. I hope that the SP-Congress leaders understand that without JD (U), RLD, JD (S) and NCP, the SP-Congress alliance will not be in position to stop communal forces from grabbing power.”
The Peace Party that counts the weavers’ community in Central and East UP among its supporters has already announced an alliance with the Nishad Party led by Sanjay Nishad.
Peace Party chief Mohd Ayub said, “My organisation will not merge with any party but it is ready to join an anti-BJP alliance.”
Veteran Dalit leader RK Chaudhary, the BS-4 chief who enjoys considerable influence over the Pasi community in central and east UP, said, “I had spoken to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar about the launch of a grand alliance in UP.”
MK Mishra, a political observer, said the smaller political parties had a support base in the areas of their influence. They will cut into the votebank of the SP-Congress alliance. Among the smaller parties, only the RLD, Peace Party and Qaumi Ekta Dal won seats in the 2012 assembly election.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the leaders of smaller parties had launched the Ekta Manch but could make no impact due to the Modi wave.