Apna Dal

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Apna Dal
अपना दल
Abbreviation AD
President Krishna Patel
Parliamentary Chairperson Anupriya Patel Singh
Lok Sabha leader Anupriya Patel Singh
Founder Dr.Sone Lal Patel
Founded 4 November 1995 (20 years ago) (1995-11-04)
Headquarters 1/2 A.P. Sen Road, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
Ideology Social Justice for All, Women Empowerment, Inclusive Governance
Colours Orange/Blue
ECI Status State Party[1]
Alliance NDA (2014-Present)
Seats in Lok Sabha
2 / 545
Seats in Rajya Sabha
0 / 245
Election symbol

Apna Dal (अपना दल) is an Indian political party active in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The party finds its support base mainly among the OBC communities of the Varanasi-Mirzapur region.


Apna Dal was founded on 4 November 1995 by Dr. Sone Lal Patel, a politician belonging to the backward Kurmi caste. Sonelal Patel had been a close associate of dalit leader Kanshi Ram, and along with Ram, he had been one of the founders of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). However, Kanshi Ram started giving great importance to his young female protégée, Mayawati, to the disappointment of many other party workers who had worked very hard to build the BSP. Mayawati's arrogant attitude was also resented by them. Matters came to a head in 1995, when for the first time ever, the BSP got the chance to head a coalition government in Uttar Pradesh, and Kanshi Ram chose Mayawati to be the Chief Minister. The government headed by Mayawati was extremely short-lived (June to October 1995), but the internal pressure which had built up in the party during this time was enough to cause many people to leave the BSP and form a new political party.

That party was the Apna Dal, founded by Dr. Sone Lal Patel in November 1995, less than three weeks after the collapse of the Mayawati government. In contrast to the BSP, which had projected itself principally as the champion of the dalits, the new party sought to project itself as a party of all castes and religions. To symbolize this, the flag of Apna Dal has two colours, saffron and blue. Saffron is the colour of Hinduism, while blue is increasingly regarded as the colour of the dalits and Ambedkarites. The Election Commission has officially assigned "cup and saucer" as the party symbol for Apna Dal, to be used while contesting elections.[2]

Track record[edit]

During founder's lifetime[edit]

Apna Dal made a mark in the Varanasi-Mirzapur region, the hometown of Sone Lal Patel. The party organized its first "maha-rally" at Beniabag in Varanasi where hundreds of thousands of people were present. On 23 August 1999, during the BJP government of Kalyan Singh, several hundred protesting workers of the party were beaten up by the police.[3]

However, the party's electoral record was patchy. In 2002, seven years after the party was founded, the mafia don-turned-politician[4] Atiq Ahmed won the state assembly elections from Allahabad constituency as an Apna Dal candidate.[5] The party failed to win any seats in the Indian general election, 2009 or the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, 2007.

After founder's death[edit]

In October 2009, Dr. Sone Lal Patel died in a car crash only twenty days after his elder daughter Anupriya Patel Singh married Ashish Singh, an aspiring politician. His widow, Krishna Patel, took charge of the party as party president and carried its work forward.[6] During these years, her elder daughter Anupriya Patel Singh and son-in-law Ashish Singh have also worked for the party and, according to family and party sources, they have made strong efforts to take charge of the party, which has been resisted by Krishna Singh and other family members.

In the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, 2012, the party tasted electoral success when Anupriya Patel Singh, elder daughter of the party's founder, won the assembly election seat from Rohaniya constituency near Varanasi.[7] The party had tied up for this election with other smaller groups such as the Peace Party of India, a local Muslim-oriented party.

Two years later, the party found it opportune to abandon its Muslim electoral partners and seek an alliance with the Bhartiya Janata Party, which was clearly on the upswing in the state. On 25 March 2014, the Apna Dal became part of the National Democratic Alliance and announced its electoral arrangement: it would contest two seats (Mirzapur and Pratapgarh) as part of the NDA, and would extend support to the BJP in all other constituencies in Uttar Pradesh.[8] Thanks to this alliance, Apna Dal won both of the above seats in the 2014 general elections handsomely.[9] While Harivansh Singh won from Pratapgarh, Anupriya Patel Singh won from Mirzapur. At the same time, Rakesh Kumar Verma of the Apna Dal won the by-election to the Vishwanathganj assembly constituency seat which was held along with the parliamentary election. For a party which had never before won a seat in parliament, and hardly any seats in the state assembly, the success which it achieved due to alliance with the BJP was mind-boggling.

Rift within party and family[edit]

After winning the election to parliament from Mirzapur, Anupriya Patel Singh resigned her state assembly seat, and therefore a by-election from Rohaniya became necessary. Anupriya wanted that her husband, Ashish Singh, should be made the party candidate for the by-election. However, the Apna Dal's governing body, headed by her mother Krishna Singh, decided that Krishna Singh should herself be the candidate. This was intended to limit the influence of Anupriya and her husband in party affairs, where they were taking charge of all matters without any invitation or authorization, which was resented by Krishna Singh and her younger daughter. In the by-election which was held in October 2014, Anupriya not only failed to campaign for her mother, but allegedly also worked actively to ensure her defeat. Krishna Singh lost the election, which exacerbated the tensions and resentments within the founder's family. Immediately afterwards, Krishna removed her daughter from the post of party general secretary. The chasm widened over the next few months, and on 7 May 2015, Anupriya and six of her associates were expelled from the party for alleged anti-party activities.[10]

Anupriya Patel Singh currently is the Minister of State for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.