'Can go into Grand Alliance': BJP ally's threat over quota demand

Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party's Arvind Rajbhar said the coming together of arch-rivals SP and BSP in UP had posed 'big challenge' for BJP.

Lucknow: BJP ally Om Prakash Rajbhar's party on Monday threatened to quit the National Democratic Alliance and join the opposition coalition if its demand of sub-quota in the existing OBC reservation was not met.

Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) general secretary Arvind Rajbhar, son of the party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, said the coming together of arch-rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh had posed a "big challenge" for the BJP.

"I think the alliance is a big challenge for the BJP. If it doesn't agree to the demand of sub-categorisation of OBC quota put forward by Om Prakash Rajbhar, this alliance will remain a big challenge for the BJP," he told PTI.

Om Prakash Rajbhar, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath-led government in the state, has been vocal about implementing an expert group recommendation on sub-categorisation of the 27 per cent OBC quota into three categories to benefit the most backward castes.

Asked if his party could join the opposition alliance in case the SBSP's demands were not met, Arvind Rajbhar said: "We haven''t had any talks with the opposition. If the BJP doesn't agree to our demand (sub-categorisation), in that scenario, we can go into the grand alliance, all options are open.

"The Congress also wants that we should align with them and the ''Mahagathbandhan'' (SP-BSP) also wants that we join them," he said.

Arvind Rajbhar's remarks come about a week after another NDA (National Democratic Alliance) constituent Apna Dal (Sonelal) warned the BJP of going to "any extent" if it does not change its attitude to smaller parties in the ruling coalition.

Rajbhar's party has four MLAs in Uttar Pradesh, while Apna Dal (S) has nine. The BJP has a huge majority with more than 300 MLAs in the state's 404-member legislative assembly.

Apna Dal (S) president Ashish Patel had told party members in Lucknow that the party can take "any decision" but did not elaborate.

"Our party (Apna Dal-S) has been in alliance with the BJP since 2014 and is discharging the alliance dharma with full honesty. But in Uttar Pradesh it is not at all getting the respect, which it deserves," Patel had said.

"You (BJP) should change your behaviour, otherwise our leader (Union minister Anupriya Patel) can take any decision or go to any extent. Whatever decision our leader takes, the entire party will support it," he had asserted.

SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar on Saturday had also said the newly-formed SP-BSP alliance will put up a strong fight in this year's Lok Sabha elections.

"The country is witnessing an era of coalition, and no party has the courage to go to the polls alone. The SP-BSP alliance is a strong alliance, and it will put up a strong contest in the elections, " UP minister had said.

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