Success of Apna Dal, Bhartiya Samaj Party shows caste politics well and truly alive in UP

By Faisal Fareed,

Uttar Pradesh assembly polls have also given chance for two smaller parties to expand their wings. In the caste-ridden Hindi belt, the politics of these two parties—Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party’s success did not come as a surprise.

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In UP where voters are aligned on the basis of caste, it did not take enough from these parties to flourish. Obviously, the company of Bhartiya Janata Party further provided the much-needed impetus.

Apna Dal (Sonelal) won nine seats, which is more than even Indian National Congress which got only seven seats thus triggering a round of jokes on social media. SBSP on the other hand too got four seats. While the former banks on Kurmi votes, the latter is dependent on Rajbhar, a Most Backward Community in UP.

These parties have been trying hard to penetrate UP’s political sphere. Apna Dal’s president Late Sonelal Patel’s intervention got success as he won a couple of seats but he himself could not win any election. In 2012, it was after his death that his daughter Anupriya Patel took the reins in her hands and she became lone MLA after contesting 76 seats. Two years later, she got two MPs elected including herself. Now she is a minister in the central government. Even the division of Apna Dal with her mother Krishna Patel heading another faction could not dent her. She got 11 seats in coalition with BJP and won nine. Now she has entrusted the responsibility of her party in her husband Ashish’s hand who will be the new president, while she will be the convenor.

Similar is the case with SBSP. In 2012, they contested on 52 seats and got votes ranging between 17,000 to 50,000, but could not win any seats. It was enough to send the message. In 2017, BJP gave it eight seats and SBSP won four seats. Its leader Om Prakash Rajbhar is now MLA from Zahoorabad seat winning the seat comfortably with over 18,000 votes.

Both these parties have shown the power of their base votes with their community backing them. They are now no more considered as parties who are there only to dent votes but are taken seriously.

It should not be a surprise if MLAs from these two parties find a place in UP’s ministry. Anupriya Patel has already given a signal that her party will get its share in the ministry to her workers.

Consolidation of these two parties reflects that caste based politics is still prevalent in UP and people do not hesitate from supporting their community. These two parties also succeeded after there was an alignment of non-Yadav OBCs in the election.

There are many other similar parties waiting in the pipeline to taste success. With their communities also consolidating behind them, it will not be too late when these parties also show their presence.

For this, Mahan Dal led by Keshav Dev Maurya who targets Maurya, Shakya, Kamboj and other similar communities and NISHAD (Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal ) led by Dr Sanjay Nishad which has its eyes on the fishing community are also knocking on the door. Sanjay already has come third from Gorakhpur Rural seat with 34,092 votes. Surprising everyone NISHAD has won one seat Gyanpur in form of Vijay Mishra thus opening its account within one year of its foundation.