Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey on Thursday sought to belittle the efforts of opposition parties to stitch up an alliance with the SP and the BSP as key partners for the general elections next year, saying "days of caste equations are over". Pandey's remarks assume significance in light of the recent statement by Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav that an alliance between his party and the BSP for the Lok Sabha polls was very much alive and would be firmed up after the upcoming Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram. The Uttar Pradesh BJP chief exuded confidence that his party will romp home in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by its sheer "performance, organisational strength and continuous dialogue with masses". Taking a jibe at the BJP's political rivals, Pandey said, "People here are trying to forge an alliance. Whether the knot will be strong or get more entangled only time will tell... we are least bothered."
Pandey, who is an MP from Chandauli Lok Sabha seat in eastern Uttar Pradesh, also claimed that members of the castes, on the basis of which the SP and the BSP political parties used to reap rich political dividends, are now on the saffron party's side as they are benefitting from the BJP government's schemes. When asked whether the beneficiaries of the schemes will eventually vote for the party, Pandey said, "They will definitely back us realising that during the BJP government, there has been no room for middlemen." Slamming the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, he said, "For almost 10 years, the Congress-led UPA functioned at the Centre with the support of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav. But development eluded Uttar Pradesh as the SP and the BSP were busy fulfilling their vested interests."
Terming the party's target of getting 73+ seats from Uttar Pradesh in the general elections next year "realistic", he said the BJP is "making special plans to win the seven Lok Sabha seats which it had lost in 2014". In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Of the 80 seats in the state, the Congress had won Rae Bareli and Amethi, while the Samajwadi Party won five. The BJP and its allies bagged 73 seats. When asked as to what steps were being taken by the party to ensure that bypoll defeat such as those in high-profile constituencies - Gorakhpur and Phoolpur - besides Kairana was not repeated, Pandey said, "The party will ensure to take its vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha to over 51 per cent across the state." He claimed that today the BJP as a whole has activated one of its strongest team ever, and has members, who hail from virtually every section of the society.