Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Congress ally JAP enjoys OBC support in three regions
The Congress announced poll pact for 2019 Lok Sabha Elections with Babu Singh Kushwaha’s Jan Adhikar Party in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, March 2019.Updated: Mar 18, 2019 11:38 IST
The Congress’s latest ally Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) enjoys the support of sections of the other backward castes (OBC), particularly Mauryas, Kushwahas, Sainis and Shakyas, in Bundelkhand, east UP and Central UP, political observers said.
Former Uttar Pradesh minister Babu Singh Kushwaha floated the party in 2016. It contested 150 seats in the 2017 UP assembly election but failed to win any of them and polled 2% votes.
Kushwaha was once a close aide of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati. He was arrested in connection with the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam on March 3, 2012 and released from Dasna district jail in Ghaziabad on February 6, 2016.
After his release from jail, he launched the political outfit Jan Adhikar Manch (JAM) in Lucknow and undertook a rath yatra in Bundelkhand region in March 2016 aiming to unite the Backward and Dalit communities that have shifted away from the BSP and the SP.
He formed the Jan Adhikar Party before the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
Despite the taint of having been jailed, political parties have been wooing Kushwaha from time to time.
Manoj Kumar Singh, a political observer, said, “Although he remained in jail for around four years, it hardly made an adverse impact on his political clout. His support among the Kushwahas and Mauryas (agrarian communities) remains intact. He has the capacity to turn the tide in favour of any political party in areas dominated by the Kushwahas and the Mauryas”.
Even BSP chief Mayawati, who had termed him a conspirator and expelled him from her party in 2007, has not spoken against Kushwaha in order to avoid angering the agrarian communities.
People familiar with the matter said feelers were sent to him to patch up with his party chief but he kept his cards close to his chest.
In 2012, Kushwaha joined BJP but his membership was put on hold after opposition from a section of party leaders. Later, his wife Shukanya and brother Shiv Sharan Kushwaha joined the SP. Sukanya contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the SP ticket from Ghazipur and was runner-up in the seat as the Modi wave swept UP.
Jan Adhikar Party leader Shyam Singh Kushwaha said his party fielded candidates on 40 seats in the Madhya Pradesh assembly election last year.
“Although we failed to open our account, we polled 10,000 to 40,000 votes on a majority of the seats. The Congress leadership recognized our strength and offered a pre-poll alliance,” he said.
The Congress has offered five seats to JAP: Jhansi, Chandauli, Etah, Basti, Ghazipur.
Babu Singh Kushwaha’s brother Shiv Sharan Singh Kushwaha will contest from Jhansi. Former BJP leader Suraj Singh Shakya will try his luck in Etah. Babu Singh Kushwaha’s wife will contest from Chanduli and Chandra Shekhar will do so from Basti.
The candidates for the Ballia and Fatehpur Sikri seats will be announced soon.
The Congress has already tied up with Mahan Dal that enjoys support among Mauryas, Kushwahas, Sainis and Shakyas settled in west UP.
On Saturday, Congress announced an alliance with Apna Dal (Krishan Patel) that enjoys the support of Kurmis.
“The support of the JAP, Mahan Dal and Apna Dal is likely to give a boost to the Congress’s electoral prospects in east UP, West UP and Bundelkhand region,” said AK Mishra, a political observer.
First Published: Mar 18, 2019 11:36 IST