- Alliance tied up with Nishad Party, Janwadi Party, Rashtriya Samanta Dal
- The alliance's three new partners have influence in eastern Uttar Pradesh
- Easter UP also has BJP's Varanasi and Gorakhpur constituencies
With just two weeks to go for the national elections, the Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav combine is busy mopping up tiny regional parties that have big influence in certain pockets of Uttar Pradesh.
The alliance today tied up with the Nishad Party, Janwadi Party (Socialist) and the Rashtriya Samanta Dal.
Smaller parties become hugely important during elections in Uttar Pradesh as caste is one of the key factors in the state that's considered the gateway to Delhi. This time, even the BJP has gone out of its way to maintain its alliance with Apna Dal, a tiny outfit that won only two seats in 2014.
The alliance's three new partners have influence in eastern Uttar Pradesh, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's stronghold Gorakhpur are located.
Eastern Uttar Pradesh is also the area where the Congress has put party chief Rahul Gandhi's sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in charge. Last week, the new general secretary of the Congress had sailed down the Ganga in an unprecedented three-day waterway campaign, drumming up support among fishermen, boatmen and marginalised communities that live along the river.
The Congress is contesting most of the state's 80 seats-setting up a three-cornered contest in a battle that's primarily against the BJP.
"The Nishad Party, Janwadi Party (Socialist) and Rashtriya Samanta Dal will work for ensuring success of alliance candidates throughout the state," Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav told a press conference in Lucknow today.
The indication was that the parties will help transfer votes - a factor that Mayawati had cited while ruling out the possibility of the Congress joining the alliance.
The Nishad Party - which has influence among boatmen and fishermen - came under spotlight last year as its Praveen Nishad, the son of party chief Sanjay Nishad, became the alliance candidate during the by-election to the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat.
What was seen as a test case for the alliance was hugely successful - the constituency that sent Yogi Adityanath to the Lok Sabha five times before he became the Chief Minister - elected Praveen Nishad, who contested under the Samajwadi Party banner.
The Janwadi Party (Socialist), led by Sanjay Singh Chauhan, has influence mostly over the Chauhans, a community belonging to the Other Backward Classes. Ahead of the 2017 assembly elections, it had supported Mayawati.
The Rashtriya Samanta Party has influence among the Kushwahas, another OBC community, in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.