LUCKNOW: The Lok Sabha elections are mainly about big parties but this time, in Uttar Pradesh, it is the smaller outfits that hold the key to the outcome.

The major political players have gone out of their way to woo small parties that are usually caste-centric and have a limited area of influence.

The latest example is that of the Nishad Party with influence limited to three districts including Gorakhpur, the home town of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The Nishad Party had won the Gorakhpur by-election last year on the Samajwadi Party symbol.

On Thursday, the BJP secured the support of the Samajwadi MP Pravin Nishad and his Nishad Party joined the BJP. Pravin Nishad is likely to be named BJP candidate from Gorakhpur although there is reported resistance to this from within the BJP.

The Apna Dal, an ally of the BJP since 2014, is still with the party despite some straining at the leash, and the BJP has accommodated it with two Lok Sabha seats – Mirzapur and Robertsganj.

The BJP had contested the 2017 assembly elections in alliance with the Apna Dal and the party won nine seats.

The Apna Dal is a Kurmi –based party and wields influence in the Kurmi belt that includes Varanasi, Allahabad, Pratapgarh, Jaunpur and Mirzapur.

The Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) is a Rajbhar centric party that is also an ally in the Yogi Adityanath government. Relations between the BJP and SBSP have been rather strained with SBSP president Om Prakash Rajbhar firing salvos at the Yogi government at regular intervals. Though the BJP has not yet given any seat to SBSP, it is still endeavouring to keep the party leadership in good humor for the time being.

The support of the Rajbhar community in about 11 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh is crucial for a BJP victory.

BJP sources claim that the party leadership is trying to ‘tire out the SBSP so that it does not remain in a position to bargain with other parties’.

The Congress, meanwhile, has tied up with Mahaan Dal that wields considerable influence in the Kushwaha, Maurya, Shakya and Saini communities.

The Congress has also allied with the Jan Adhikar Manch which is a party floated by former BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha. The Manch is highly popular among the Kushwaha community in Bundelkhand and eastern UP.

The Congress has also joined hand with Apna Dal (Krishna Patel) a, breakaway faction of the original party.

The Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party, led by Shivpal Yadav, has tied up with Peace Party for the upcoming elections.

BJP spokesman Chandra Mohan explained the phenomenon by saying, “These parties have worked for their community and since they believe in the BJP ideology too, we have no problem in taking them along.”

Congress spokesman Surendra Rajput was more forthcoming when he said, “Alliance with parties that have specific areas of influence helps us expand our base.”

Whether it does, of course, will soon be evident to all.