The exit of the leaders of the OBC community from the party has created a new cause for concern for the party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
In the past few months, half a dozen Samajwadi Party leaders from these communities have already defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Recently, Ravi Verma, a former Lok Sabha MP, joined the Congress and many more leaders are expected to follow suit.
In the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Akhilesh Yadav has been stressing the importance of what the party has termed PDA - Pichchda, Dalit, Alpsankhyak unity.
Despite the party throwing its weight behind these communities, about half a dozen of the prominent OBC leaders of the state have joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in recent times.
Prominent OBC leader Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) President Om Prakash Rajbhar, former minister Dara Singh Chauhan, former Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) MP Rajpal Saini, former minister Sahab Singh Saini and former MLA Sushma Patel are some of the prominent leaders who have defected to the BJP. Moreover, Shalini Yadav, who was the SP’s candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi, too has joined the BJP.
SP, however, has exuded confidence in its formidability despite the migration. “There is no opportunity in BJP. The BJP has definitely broken some political opportunists using the greed of power and pressure, but the public understands everything,” said SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary.
A Samajwadi Party leader said the departure of several OBC leaders could be attributed to their feeling that there was no ‘proper place’ for the party in the INDIA alliance.
A former SP MLA who joined the BJP in July said , “There are many reasons for leaving SP. OBCs have faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Modi-Shah is giving respect to OBCs.”
Meanwhile, Dara Singh Chauhan, who was the Forest Minister in the first Yogi Adityanath government from 2017-2002, was elected MLA in 2022 on the SP symbol from the Ghosi assembly seat in Mau district. He resigned from the assembly membership before joining the BJP. However, he later contested the by-election from Ghosi and lost to the Samajwadi Party candidate.
Former MP Rajpal Saini said he parted ways with Samajwadi Party after he was ignored for a ticket in the bypolls. “I have been an MP, a Minister, an MLA and was defeated by only a few votes in the 2022 assembly elections from Khatuli in Muzaffarnagar but I was not given a ticket in the by-election,” he said.
“I was neglected in the municipal elections as well, so I took this step because the future belongs to the BJP,” he said. Saini also argued that the community was not getting space in the alliance in proportion to its size and clout, and cited BSP founder Kanshiram’s slogan “Jiski jitni Sankhya Bhari, Uski Utni Hissedari”, which he said wasn’t turning out to be the case.
Meanwhile, speculations are rife that small caste based parties are likely to join hands with the BJP-led NDA in western Uttar Pradesh.
Mahan Dal president Keshav Dev Maurya said, “Our struggle is for power and if we get a proper opportunity, we can join hands with the BJP.”