- In 2014 national elections, Apna Dal won two seats in east UP
- Ashish Patel denied any conflict with the BJP on seat-sharing
- Anupriya Patel said party not being heard by BJP
Union Minister Anupriya Patel of the Apna Dal, a crucial ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, has threatened to quit the National Democratic Alliance over being not heard by the BJP on issues that it had raised.
In the 2014 national elections, the Apna Dal won two seats in east Uttar Pradesh - Mirzapur and Pratapgarh. The party split later, and Ms Patel's faction continued its alliance with the BJP.
"Some differences cropped up with the BJP and we gave them time till February 20 to answer our questions. But they did not have any answers. So it appears the BJP is not interested in listening to or answering complaints of their allies," Ms Patel said. "Apna Dal is independent to make its own decision. We have called a party meeting and we will do what the party decides, whatever will be decided in the meeting we will let you know," she said.
For the last few months, several Apna Dal leaders have been speaking out against the BJP with allegations that the bigger party has not been taking their suggestions in running the coalition.
Sources in the BJP said this aggressive posturing by the Apna Dal could be because Ms Patel wants more seats given to the party for the Lok Sabha elections due by May.
Apna Dal president and Anupriya's husband Ashish Patel denied any conflict with the BJP on seat-sharing. "We honestly want Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get re-elected. But for that the UP BJP has to change its attitude. If our demands are met, we will strongly support the NDA in 2019 elections," he told reporters.
He said the UP government appointed some 300 people in state corporations, but no Apna Dal worker was given an opportunity.
Another east Uttar Pradesh ally of the NDA, the Om Prakash Rajbhar-led S-BSP, has just been placated by the BJP after a meeting with party chief Amit Shah in Delhi. The deal-clincher was a huge bungalow in Lucknow and promise of development projects at Mr Rajbhar's hometown in east UP, sources said.
The Apna Dal was formed in 1995 by Sonelal Patel, an Other Backward Classes leader with strong support base in eastern UP and pockets of Bundelkhand. The party also claims it enjoys support among the non-OBC communities as the Kurmis.
The party won an election for the first time in 2012, with Anupriya Patel entering the UP assembly.