Another ally takes on Akhilesh; don’t stay in A-C rooms, go to field, says Om Prakash Rajbhar

In another sign of trouble within An alliance set up by the Samajwadi Party For the assembly elections, Suholdev Bharatiya Samaj Om Prakash Rajbhar advised the SP chief to “leave his air-conditioned rooms more often… and be more active in the field”.

Rajbhar’s statement follows the signs Chairman of the Pragatichil Samajwadi Party (Lohya) Shivpal Yadav – who buried deep-rooted differences with his nephew Akhilesh to compete for the symbol of the Socialist Party in the assembly elections – that the détente between them is over.

SBSP MLAs and Shivpal also walked away from the assembly’s SP lawmakers’ protest against the governor’s speech on Monday. The other two who stayed away were SP MLAs Azam Khan and his son Abdullah, who also clearly expressed their dissatisfaction with the party’s leadership.

Justifying this on Tuesday, Rajbar said members of his party did not participate in the protest “because they wanted to give a lesson in respect towards the ruler”. We wanted to give a message that the ruler should not be respected. If the people have something to say, they should say it during the council session.”

Rajbar’s advice to Akhilesh came at a press conference, where he went on to say he was confident the SP party chief would follow suit. “He should go out into the field. Meet his leaders and workers… He’s going. How not?” he said.

SP already Bruised by Azam Khan’s barbsWhat Rajbhar said now took its place. Asked about the SBSP chief’s statement on Monday, Akhilesh said: “Asha ke rahi hin (what he said is good).” The SP realizes that it may not take much for the SBSP to return to the BJP; The two parties competed together in the 2017 House of Representatives elections.

The SBSP was part of the umbrella coalition formed by the Socialist Party in the run-up to the last state elections, including the Rashtriya Lok Dal Party (RLD), the Janwadi (Socialist) Party led by Sanjay Chauhan, Abna Dal (Kamirvadi) Krishna Patel, and Shivpal’s PSP (L).

While the SBSP has the support of the Rajbhar community (OBC sub-caste with 3-4% share in the UP population), which is largely centered in eastern UP and adjacent regions, it has been demanding the support of other smaller and more backward OBC sub-castes such as Shakyas and Sainis and Mauryas, Kushwahas, Arkvanshis, Raghuvanshis, Pals, and Chauhans.

In recent polls, the SBSP has won six of the 17 seats it contested, and is also seen to have helped the SP coalition in its stronghold in eastern UP.

On Tuesday, the SBSP also targeted this, saying that while the party performed well in the elections and “guaranteed the victory of the Socialist Party candidates by shifting votes”, the Socialist Party was unable to do so for the SBSP in its traditional strongholds in the Yadav belt in Etawah and Mainpur, Kannauj and adjacent areas.

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SBSP General Secretary Arun Rajbar told The Indian Express: “We have kept our promise. We have helped the SP win Eastern UP. But the head of the SP must work hard to ensure that the 2022 story is not repeated in 2024. And for that, he needs to travel. Regardless of when the House proceedings take place, he must not remain in Lucknow. He must travel through the UP and regain his party’s foothold throughout the state.”

Asked if it might irritate Akhilesh, he said, “I am saying what is right. I met the leaders of the Socialist Party and they said we should advise Akhilesh to travel. If our small party can hold meetings via the UP, why can’t they?”

NSP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhry took the same stance as Akhilesh when asked about Om Prakash Rajbar’s statement. He said he considered it “health advice” and stated that “everything is fine” between SP and SBSP.

“Rajbarji gave some health advice. And we have no problem with that. He says Akhileshgi has to travel, which he does anyway. There is absolutely no chance of any disagreement between SP and SBSP,” he said.

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