The Janata Dal-United on Monday (June 28) announced that it would field 200 candidates in the coming Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh if the talks of seat-sharing arrangements did not materialize with the National Democratic Alliance (read Bharatiya Janata Party).
This disclosure was made by the party’s chief general secretary and spokesman K C Tyagi. He said that had his party contested election on its own in 2017, today it would have dozens of MLAs in UP Assembly.
Tyagi’s statement came just a few days after the Union home minister Amit Shah met leaders of small parties of UP like Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal and Sanjay Nishad of Nishad Party. Soon the news started doing the rounds that they may be accommodated in the likely expansion of the Narendra Modi cabinet.
Apna Dal is essentially a Kurmi party with some influence in east UP while Nishad Party is the party of Mallahs (fishermen and boatmen). What is interesting is that in 2012 Assembly election the Janata Dal United, though an NDA constituent, did not contest the Assembly poll in alliance with the BJP.
However, in spite of extensive campaign by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar the party drew blank.
In 2017, though Janata Dal-United was in the Grand Alliance in Bihar, yet it did not field any candidate in UP election. In 2022 it is planning to contest alone notwithstanding the fact that it is a major constituent of the NDA in Bihar.
Independent political observers are of the view that the latest move is a part of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s strategy to put pressure on the BJP and improve his own party’s bargaining position at a time when the saffron party is somewhat shaky in UP.