Why did talks between Samajwadi Party and Bhim Army’s political outfit ASP collapse?

Soon after leaving SP office on Saturday, Chandrasekhar Azad called on media persons and informed there would be no alliance with the Samajwadi party. Zaigham Murtaza provides the inside story

Why did talks between Samajwadi Party and Bhim Army’s political outfit ASP collapse?

Saiyed Zegham Murtaza

It was all set to go. The political pundits claimed, everything has been materialized. The logistics, the candidates and seats, all have been discussed, and what is now needed is just an announcement. Everything went according to the plans till the morning of January 15, 2022, and suddenly the coalition collapsed. At 10.30, Chandrasekhar Azad aka Ravana rushed out from Akhilesh Yadav’s office in Lucknow, claiming that he has been insulted.

Soon after leaving the Samajwadi Party office, Chandrasekhar Azad (36) called on the media persons only to inform them that there will be no coalition with the party of the former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The news just stunned all those who were present because everyone was waiting to know, how many seats Bhim Army chief, who also heads a political outfit Azad Samaj Party has snatched in the Samajwadi alliance.

“We are fighting for Dalits of Uttar Pradesh for the last 9 years. Till yesterday evening, we were told everything is fine. Now it seems, Akhilesh Yadav doesn’t want to engage the SC leaders in his front”, said the furious Chandrasekhar while adding that his party respects Mayawati as a Dalit leader and they will now weigh their other alternatives.

While people were guessing, what actually went wrong, Akhilesh Yadav called on the media persons to brief. He told the journalists that Chandrasekhar was offered two seats, i.e. the Ghaziabad city and Rampur Maniharan in the Saharanpur district, which he didn’t accept.

“When we made an offer, he called someone on phone. After the call, he said, my party isn’t ready for two and he left the place”, claimed the Samajwadi Party leader.

How many seats Chandrasekhar was demanding? Sources in Samajwadi Party say, he demanded 15 and finally negotiated for 8. Eight seats Chandrasekhar pressed for included Sahibabad (Ghaziabad), a seat each in Amroha, Bijnor, Bulandshahar, Saharanpur, and Muzaffarnagar. Also, he claimed some seats reserved for the SCs.

“He may have got one more had he pressed or may have been offered a seat in legislative assembly post elections”, says a leader in the Samajwadi Party on the condition of anonymity. “He demanded the seats where the party has already declared the candidates or have gone to the RLD quota in the coalition, he added.

Ali Tahir, a Lucknow-based journalist says, “He was demanding too much. He may have bargained better some ix months ago but now it is too late.” Actually, with the joining of leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya, Dharam Singh Saini, equations have changed a lot. Swami Prasad Maurya has brought too many aspirants with him. Also, the Samajwadi Party has pitched itself strongly among the SC and OBC’s recently, so its dependency on outsiders has lessened. With some big faces like Vir Singh, Indrajeet Saroj, Lalji Verma among its ranks, and Dara Singh Chauhan in waiting, the socialist block is confident of retaining the power in the most populous state of India.

“Mayawati is no more in contention for power despite pitching her candidates”, claims Indrajeet Saroj, who was sometimes a big face in BSP. “Dalit voters of Uttar Pradesh are left with no other option because they have faced too many atrocities under the BJP rule and BSP failed to respond to their cause”, claims Saroj who is now the general secretary of Samajwadi Party. The same claims are being made by Ram Achal Rajbhar and Vir Singh, who are believed to be the big faces of deprived communities in the state.

Also, what went against Chandrasekhar is his closeness with Imran Masood, considered a big political face from Saharanpur. Imran Masood had recently left Congress to join Samajwadi Party along with two MLA’s, Naresh Saini and Masood Akhtar. After Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini joined the Samajwadi party, equations have gone against Masood. It is now rumored that Chandrasekhar had called Imran from Akhilesh’s office. Imran’s own position in Samajwadi Party is not clear now.

One thing is clear, had Chandrasekhar bargained for six, seven seats some 6 months ago, as he is claiming now, he may have got. At present Samajwadi Party cannot offer him more than two, specially when Suheldev Bharat Samaj Party of Omprakash Rajbhar has got just 8 in the alliance. Ravan has yet to prove himself as an electioneering outfit. Though His party contested the assembly by-polls and the panchayat election held recently, the results weren’t so impressive. This also wrinkled his bargaining power.

Also, he failed to repeat the show of support among Dalit electorates, as he got from the Muslim community while participating in antiCAA protests. Political pundits feel, he is over-ambitious at this stage. Either he should work on the ground like Sanjay Nishad of Nishad Party and Omprakash Rajbhar or should contend with what he has got. Switching sides, knitting a new alliance every new day and a hard bargain will only spoil his future prospects and the political image.

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