The BJP has started its outreach to allies in Uttar Pradesh ahead of next year’s elections with Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel. Ms Patel was in Delhi today, where she met Union home minister Amit Shah, and, sources said, flagged her demand of two ministerial berths for Uttar Pradesh and one at the Centre.
Union home minister Amit Shah and former bureaucrat AK Sharma — who was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pick for a key role in Uttar Pradesh — met senior Nishad Samaj leader Dr Sanjay Kumar Nishad and Sant Kabir Nagar MP Praveen Nishad.
The tie-up had started before the 2014 national elections, when the BJP won 71 of the state’s 80 seats. Apna Dal, which has support among the Kurmis, added two more seats to the tally and rose to prominence.
In the 2017 elections, when the BJP swept to power in the state, Apna Dal had won nine assembly seats. Ms Patel held the health portfolio for a while in the first stint of the Narendra Modi government.
A few days ago, Anupriya Patel had met state BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh, where the discussion was on district panchayat elections.
Apna Dal is keen on the post of Zilla Panchayat president in some districts, including Mirzapur and Banda.
The outreach to local allies was planned in tandem with the meetings with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was also in Delhi for meetings with the party leadership.
The BJP has been deeply concerned over the leadership in Uttar Pradesh and the feedback it received from various quarters indicated the Chief Minister’s inability to take everyone along, sources said.
Ahead of the 2019 national election, Apna Dal had threatened to quit the alliance, alleging that the BJP was “not taking care of its allies”. Anupriya Patel had said that the party is “free to take its own decisions”.
That time also, sources in Apna Dal had indicated that their differences were mainly with the Chief Minister. “The state BJP leadership isn’t giving us the respect we deserve,”Anupriya Patel’s husband, Apna Dal leader Ashish Patel, had said, seeking the intervention of the Central leadership.
Another key ally of the BJP, Om Prakash Rajbhar, had quit the alliance and joined hands with the opposition in May 2019 in the middle of the Lok Sabha elections.
Prior to the 2017 elections, the BJP had formed a rainbow alliance keeping the social equations in mind. It had brought together various parties representing non-Yadav OBCs who played a significant role in giving the BJP a spectacular win the assembly election.