Disgruntled BJP ally Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar on Sunday said the SP-BSP alliance was poised for a big win in the final phase of voting in Purvanchal (eastern Uttar Pradesh).
Rajbhar, who submitted his resignation from the Yogi Adityanath government last month, also urged supporters to thrash BJP workers with shoes if they spread misinformation.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, along with his family, at the Mirganj Primary School in Lucknow, Rajbhar has fielded 39 candidates in eastern UP, including in Varanasi from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a re-election.
"No party will get a majority in these elections. In eastern UP, It is the SP-BSP alliance that will dominate. Without our support the BJP will suffer losses in at least 30 seats in Purvanchal. It is losing Balia, Gorakhpur and Ghazipur seats," said Rajbhar.
He predicted that the saffron party will only win 15 seats in the state. "The SP-BSP alliance will win 55-60 seats, while the Congress will gets 2-3 seats," he added.
Rajbhar, who has considerable clout in eastern Uttar Pradesh, asserted that his party has not campaigned for the saffron party in these elections. "We are not with them now. We only asked for the Ghosi seat, which the BJP did not give us," he said.
The SBSP chief, who has been playing spoiler to the BJP's plans in Uttar Pradesh, last week declared support for the Congress candidate in Mirzapur and SP-BSP-RLD alliance candidate in Maharajganj and Bansgaon.
His new statements can mean trouble for the BJP, since Rajbhars constitute 20 per cent of the Purvanchal population and are regarded as the second-most politically dominant community after Yadavs in eastern UP.
He has also announced fielding his party candidates from several constituencies in Uttar Pradesh.
Separately, in a video Rajbahr is heard asking his party workers to beat BJP workers in his address to an election meeting earlier in Ghosi parliamentary constituency. The video has gone viral on social media.
The video shows him asking supporters to beat up BJP workers if they suggest that a local SBSP candidate is not actually contesting.
“BJP workers are telling everyone that we have an alliance, and Mahendra is not contesting,” he is heard saying in the video clip.
"So, if you find a BJP leaders saying such things, take out your shoe and beat him 10 times with it,” he said.
The SBSP has fielded as many as 39 candidates in the state in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
Reacting to Rajbhar's statement, state BJP media coordinator Rakesh Tripathi said, "This is extremely unfortunate and objectionable.”
“We expect the Election Commission to take cognizance of the remarks and initiate stringent actions. Tough action must be taken for making statements that can spread hatred in society,” he said.
The SBSP's flags were also seen in Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi's roadshow in Mirzapur on Friday.
The SBSP is a BJP ally in UP, and had won four seats in the 2017 UP Assembly elections. Rajbhar is the UP cabinet minister for Backward class welfare and Divyangjan Empowerment.
Meanwhile, Rajbhar's son and SBSP general secretary Arun Rajbhar said, "The alliance with the BJP is for the assembly polls and not for the Lok Sabha elections."