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Apna Dal set for another split, fight for backward caste votes to intensify

The Apna Dal enjoys considerable support among Kurmi voters in the Varanasi-Mirzapur region, Bundelkhand and in the districts of central UP

lucknow Updated: Feb 26, 2019 08:22 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
apna dal,apna dal caste votes
Apna Dal (S) leader Anupriya Patel with party President Ashish Patel addresses a press conference, in Lucknow(PTI)

The Apna Dal is set for formation of its third faction before the Lok Sabha election with the party’s founder-member Man Singh Patel announcing he will launch All India Apna Dal formally on Tuesday. The move is expected to intensify the fight for the backward caste votes among the parties in UP.

Currently, the Apna Dal has two factions, one led by union minister of state for health and family welfare Anupriya Patel, and the other headed by her mother Krishna Patel. Both are vying to claim the legacy of Anupriya’s father Sone Lal Patel, who launched the Apna Dal in 1995.

The Apna Dal enjoys considerable support among Kurmi voters in the Varanasi-Mirzapur region, Bundelkhand and in the districts of central UP. Formation of its third faction is also likely to intensify the tussle for Kurmi votes among the BJP, the Congress and the BSP- SP alliance too.

Rebel Apna Dal leader Harivansh Singh, who represents Pratapgarh in the Lok Sabha, has joined hands with the All India Apna Dal.

Man Singh Patel, who now calls himself national general secretary of All India Apna Dal, said a meeting of the party leaders would be held on Tuesday to discuss the strategy for the Lok Sabha election.

Anupriya Patel, who leads the Apna Dal (S) faction, has already expressed displeasure with the BJP, indicating that she will part ways with the NDA in the Lok Sabha election.

Last week week, Anupriya met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the party’s national general secretary (east UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Delhi to finalise the alliance. Her husband Ashish Singh met Congress national general secretary, Jyotiraditya Scindia who is in-charge of west UP.

A senior Apna Dal (S) leader, who did not wish to be named said the alliance had been finalized and the party will contest on eight Lok Sabha seats under a seat-sharing formula with the Congress.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Apna Dal had contested and won Mirzapur and Pratapgarh seats in alliance with the BJP.

In the 2017 assembly election, Apna Dal (S) won nine assembly seats and its MLA from Fatehpur Jai Kumar Jaiki was appointed a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government. As Anupriya’s influence grew among Kurmi voters, she was made a minister of state at the centre.

The Apna Dal (S) relations with BJP started souring in November last year. At that time, the smaller party’s national president Ashish Singh Patel alleged the BJP was not concerned about its alliance partners. A tiff over allotment of a bungalow for the Apna Dal (S) added fuel to fire.

Ashish alleged Apna Dal (S) leaders were not given posts in various government corporations, commissions and committees.

“We raised the issue of neglect by the state BJP government but the matter remained unresolved,” he said.

For its part, the Apna Dal (S) has called meeting of the party’s core committee on February 28 to discuss the future course of action, he said.

Krishna Patel, claiming to be the national president of original Apna Dal, said, the splinter group run by daughter Anupriya was trying to hijack the party. She said Anupriya had made her husband Ashish Singh national president of Apna Dal (S) and this was illegal.

Krishna said she was elected party president after her husband Sonelal Patel’s death. Anupriya contested Lok Sabha election on Apna Dal symbol in 2014 and became union minister from the party quota, Krishna Patel said. Later, Anupriya and her husband announced launch of a separate party, claiming that it was the original Apna Dal. “Majority of Sonelal Patel’s supporters are with me,” Krishna Patel said.

A senior Apna Dal leader loyal to Krishna Patel said she might support the BJP in the Lok Sabha election if her daughter decided to go with the Congress. The All India Apna Dal will also challenge Anupriya in her stronghold, he said.

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 08:22 IST