Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad said Saturday that his political outfit – the Azad Samaj Party – would not ally with the Samajwadi Party for next month’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.
Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav “does not want the support of Dalits”, Mr Azad told reporters.
“Yesterday Akhileshji humiliated us… yesterday Akhileshji humiliated the ‘bahujan samaj‘,” Chandrashekhar Azad said, a day after meeting the Samajwadi Party chief to discuss seat-sharing.
Sources have told NDTV Akhilesh Yadav offered the Azad Samaj Party three seats, but Chandrashekhar Azad was asking for 10 seats and a middle ground could not be established.
Ahead of the UP election (the seven-phase poll begins February 10), Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as perhaps the biggest challenger to the ruling BJP.
Mr Yadav has spurned help from larger parties like the Congress and stitched together a “rainbow” alliance of regional outfits, such as Omprakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (which signed up with the Samajwadi Party last year) and Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal.
He has also poached BJP leaders with considerable influence over the OBC vote base, including (so far) two ministers in Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, who joined his party yesterday.
In 2017 the BJP’s strategy was to win over the non-Yadav OBC castes given Mr Yadav’s most loyal voters are seen to be Yadavs and Muslims. This time round, the Samajwadi Party leader’s game-plan is to emulate the success by pulling in the non-Yadav OBC leaders.
Akhilesh Yadav told NDTV in November that a “pincer” movement of angry farmers (upset over the now-scrapped farm laws) in the west and a “rainbow alliance” of regional parties in the east would “wipe out the BJP” in the election.
UP will vote in seven phases from February 10, with results due exactly one month later – March 10.