Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav attends SBSP mahapanchayat

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav addressed a mahapanchayat organised by the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) in Mau on Wednesday, sealing the alliance between the two parties for the 2022 assembly election.

Incidentally, in 2016, Union home minister Amit Shah, who was then the national BJP chief, had also formalised the BJP’s tie-up with the SBSP in a similar mahapanchayat organised by the latter in the same district.

The SP now hopes to gain from the SBSP’s influence among the Rajbhars, a most backward caste (MBC), and other MBCs of the districts of Purvanchal, from where the party sent four MLAs to the legislative assembly in 2017, out of the eight seats it contested in alliance with the BJP. The BJP has been mobilising non-Yadav other backward castes against the SP in a winning formula for itself in the past few years.

“The coming together of red and yellow must have caused many people in Delhi and Lucknow to turn lal-peela (seethe in anger),” Yadav said, in an apparent reference to the BJP leadership at the Centre and in the state, dubbing the programme “historic”. While SP workers don the red cap, which stands for the socialist ideology of the party, yellow is the colour of the SBSP.

Amid a psychological boost to the SP that a former BJP ally has joined it, Yadav said, “The door through which the BJP came to power has been shut by OP Rajbhar and we have bolted it.” No details on seat-sharing between the two parties have been pulged yet.

Rajbhars account for about 4% of the state’s population but are part of a larger caste block of MBCs that comprise about 20% of the state’s population. “I have brought the future chief minister with me,” Rajbhar told the crowd, extending his support to Yadav.