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UP Elections 2017: 'Spoilsport' parties look to hurt bigger players

Elections are not about the big parties alone, at least that’s what the Pichhda Varg Mahapanchayat Party (PVMP) will have you think. The party, whose election symbol — believe it or not — is a box of matchsticks, may not win a single seat but it is certainly looking to make life difficult for the bigger parties.

“Even if these parties do not win a single seat, they will definitely harm the interest of national and regional parties on certain seats,” admits a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

Led by Bal Krishna Chauhan, the PVMP is one of a slew of parties who have no chance of winning but may cut votes for major parties in certain seats. Appealing to backward castes, Bal Krishna’s party is ready to contest all 403 seats in UP and he is confident that he can dent the prospects of BJP candidates in several seats.

“Modi calls himself a backward but he has done nothing for the backward community in his two-and-a half-year term. The BJP has always used the backwards as a vote bank,” says Chauhan.

It’s not just the PVMP. Film comedian Rajpal Yadav has also launched his own political outfit — Sarv Sambhav Party (SSP). Rajpal’s elder brother Sripal Yadav is the president of the party whereas another brother Rajesh Yadav is a contestant from Tilhar constituency. The party claims that it will contest at least 390 seats.

“I have been training my two brothers in politics for over a decade, now they are ready to take a dive,” says Yadav, who is keen to take charge of campaigning on the issue of farmers and inequality. He adds that they will use social media to make their ideology reach the electorate.

Then there is Ojasvi Party, launched by Narayan Sai, the son of Asaram Bapu, in 2011; the father-son duo currently face rape charges. The party claims it will contest 150 seats under the ‘Tent’ symbol.

“The party is fielding candidates for the first time,” says party secretary Dharmendra Singh, claiming that Narain Sai will contest from two seats — Sahibabad and Shivpur, and that the court has given him interim permission to contest elections.

Shivpur in Varanasi district has a school and an ashram run by the followers of Asaram Bapu.

Then there are those which are emerging to look after the interests of their communities, such as the ‘Most Backward Classes of India’ (MBCI) party, which has the musical instrument harmonium as its symbol.

The national secretary of the party, Shivshankar ‘India’ claimed it would contest at least 200 seats in the Awadh and Bundelkhand regions. As the name suggests, the party will work for the welfare of most backward, most Dalit, and Pasmanda community.

There are other organisations with political ambitions, which either concentrate on their regional interests or manifest their affiliation to various issues.

Estimates suggest that there are more than 400 political outfits registered in Uttar Pradesh alone.

“Often, many of such outfits emerge at the behest of big political organisations only to mar the prospects of their opponent,” says a senior politician, who declined to be named for this article. Many others, he said, enter the poll arena with the sole purpose, not of winning a seat, but of improving their future prospects by merging with the winner.

Many of these have no interest in contesting elections but to play spoilsport for the bigger parties’ prospects. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has declared to launch an extensive anti-Modi campaign though it will not contest the election in UP. The same is the case with the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen.