BJP ties up with Apna Dal, Nishad Party in UP
- Announcing the decision, BJP president JP Nadda said the party will contest with its “NDA partners just as it has done for the Lok Sabha elections”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday announced that it will contest all 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh “jointly” with its allies the Apna Dal and Nishad Party. The BJP also used the occasion to burnish its pro-Other Backward Classes (OBC) credentials; both the Apna Dal and the Nishad Party are built around a core OBC base. .
Announcing the decision, BJP president JP Nadda said the party will contest with its “NDA partners just as it has done for the Lok Sabha elections”.
While he did not specify the details of the seat-sharing agreement between the allies, Nadda said discussions on how elections would be fought and won were carried out without rancour.
Anupriya Patel of the Apna Dal and Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party, who were present, spoke about the steps taken by the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state for the empowerment and uplift of the socially and economic marginalised communities.
The party has been on an overdrive to dispel perceptions that its social engineering model built around support of non-dominant OBCs has come undone following the exit of three OBC ministers and several legislators over the past week.
Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls in seven phases starting February 10 and ending March 7. Votes will be counted on March 10.
The party is also tight-lipped about why it chose not to include the Janata Dal (United) in the coalition. The BJP and the JDU run a coalition government in Bihar but have chosen to contest elections separately in UP. “There was no word from the BJP on seat sharing so we chose to go alone. But the BJP must answer why it did not take along an ally that is also essentially an OBC party. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar being a Kurmi (OBC) would have added to the party’s pro-OBC claims,” a JDU leader said on condition of anonymity.
A BJP leader in Delhi declined comment on the issue.
Referring to the achievements of the BJP government in the state, Nadda said: “We have seen how the double engine government has given momentum to development in the state. When we say double engine, it means support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and implementation of the work by chief minister Yogi Adityanath that has helped us bring change on the ground. We have seen a new picture of development emerge.”
Nadda counted improved road and highway connectivity, and better education and social indicators, as examples of UP’s development. He said that unlike in the past, people do not migrate from the state anymore and UP has emerged as an “investment destination.”
“Women and youth have been at the focus (of our policies). As far as law and order is concerned, we’ve seen it has vastly improved. When we see the scenario five years ago, there was migration, life came to a standstill post 7 pm., and there was a nexus between the government and the mafia. Today there is rule of law,” Nadda said.
Patel, for her part, said the alliance government led to a mix of development and social justice. The Apna Dal has significant support among the OBC Kurmi community.
Referring to the government’s pro-OBC policies she said it was the BJP that gave constitutional status to the OBC commission; made provisions for OBC reservation in NEET, and in government run Navodya and Sainik Schools.
Patel , who is part of the Union cabinet, also expressed hope that the alliance will address pending issues such as her party’s demand for a separate ministry for OBCs.
Nishad credited the BJP government for empowering the socially and economically marginalised and the fishermen’s community that he comes from. “Whatever the BJP says, it fulfils sooner than later whether it was abrogation of article 370 of the construction of Ram Mandir,” he said. He also added that the discussion with the BJP was on how to wining the elections and not seat sharing.
While the official seat sharing announcement is awaited, people familiar with development said the two parties are likely to get more seats in proportion to their existing legislators and more than the last election.
In 2017 the Apna Dal was an ally of the BJP and contested 11 seats, winning 9. The BJP’s other ally, the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, which contested 8 seats and won 4 has since left the alliance and joined hands with the SP. The Nishad Party fought the 2017 elections alone and joined the National Democratic Alliance in 2019.