Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) president Om Prakash Rajbhar is inching closer to the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP is also reciprocating the affection in ample measure.
Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak, on Wednesday, shared the stage with Rajbhar at a function in Ballia.
The deputy chief minister addressed Rajbhar as a "permanent friend".
When questioned, he reiterated, "Yes Rajbhar ji is my permanent friend."
Rajbhar, who snapped ties with the Samajwadi Party after the Assembly poll results, has been sending out feelers for a rapprochement to the BJP.
He supported the BJP's presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu and has backed the government on multiple issues. He is heard appreciating Yogi Adityanath's style of governance on occasions more than one.
"The joining of SBSP helped the SP to create a narrative of backward consolidation in a limited scale and increase its seat and vote share in 2022 Assembly polls. The SBSP might not have a large support base, but it has some support in at least 30-35 Assembly segment and about 10 parliamentary segments. The BJP will definitely try to get the party on its side before 2024 poll and Rajbhar also has no option but to return to the NDA fold," said a political analyst.
The SBSP was formed by Rajbhar in 2002 and has sizable support among the Rajbhar community in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Rajbhars constitute roughly 4 per cent of the state's electorate.
The SBSP formed an alliance with the SP in 2022 Assembly polls and fought on 19 seats winning six.
In 2017, the SBSP contested the election in alliance with the BJP and won four seats.