Two ex-BJP ministers join Samajwadi Party in presence of Akhilesh Yadav

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Taking a dig at the flurry of resignations from the saffron party, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said, “wickets gir rahe the (wickets were dropping).”

Dharam Singh Saini joins SP on Friday. ANI

The Samajwadi Party on Friday welcomed former BJP Uttar Pradesh ministers Swami Prasad Maurya, Dharam Singh Saini and five other MLAs into their party in the presence of opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav.

Taking a dig at the flurry of resignations from the saffron party, the SP chief said, “wickets gir rahe the (wickets were dropping).”

Along with the former ministers, the sitting MLAs Bhagwati Sagar, Vinay Shakya, Roshan Lal Verma, Mukesh Verma and Brajesh Kumar Prajapati have also joined SP.

Apna Dal MLA Chaudhary Amar Singh, Former BSP MLA Neeraj Kushawaha Maurya, former BJP MLC Harpal Saini, former BSP MLA Balram Saini, former BJP MLA Rajendra Pratap Singh, former Minister of State Vidrohi Maurya, former Chief Security Officer Padam Singh and former Congress MLA Bansi Singh Pahadiya joined the party.

The BJP is witnessing an exodus ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. On Thursday, Dharam Singh Saini, another minister from Uttar Pradesh, resigned from the party — just 24 hours after rubbishing reports he would do so.

Also read: Why it may still be advantage Yogi Adityanath despite minor OBC rebellion in Uttar Pradesh

String of exits

The spate of resignations began with Swami Prasad Maurya quitting the cabinet. Maurya, a prominent leader from the OBC community, had joined the BJP from BSP. Dara Singh Chauhan had resigned as minister on Wednesday. Dharam Singh Saini became the third minister on Thursday.

The rebels had quit the BJP citing “gross neglect” towards Dalits, backwards, farmers, unemployed youth and small traders as reasons. Maurya is the most high-profile leader to leave the BJP. He was minister of labour, employment and coordination.

Rumours were rife that he was expected to join the Samajwadi Party after a ‘welcome’ post by Akhilesh Yadav on Twitter. However, he clarified that he had not joined the SP (yet). “I have only resigned as minister. Will announce my decision on 14 January.”

On the same day, Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Roshan Lal Verma decided to quit BJP as well.

Two other BJP MLAs of Uttar Pradesh, Bhagwati Prasad Sagar and Brajesh Prajapati, also submitted their resignations.

Roshan Lal Verma alleged that they were being ignored. He said, “Suresh Khanna was doing things at will. We were being ignored all the time.”

Verma said that he had spoken to the chief minister and other senior leaders but nothing was done.

Vinay Shakya, another BJP MLA, also resigned from the party on Monday. However, his daughter, Riya, alleged that her father had gone missing after her uncle and grandmother took him to Lucknow from Auraiya. The police later denied the allegations.

On Tuesday, Dara Singh Chauhan, another minister of the Yogi Adityanath government, quit the BJP.

Another prominent OBC face in Uttar Pradesh, he too is likely to join the Samajwadi Party after Akhilesh Yadav tweeted a picture with Chauhan, much like he did with Maurya.

Samajwadi Party has stitched a coalition of smaller parties for the assembly polls and has emerged as the main rival of the ruling BJP in the state.

The developments appear to strengthen the SP’s influence among the non-Yadav OBCs in the state, less than a month before the crucial elections that will also have an impact on the 2024 parliamentary polls.

UP polls

Uttar Pradesh, what is considered to be the country’s politically vital state, votes from 10 February in seven rounds in an election widely, which is being considered as a precursor to the national elections of 2024. The results will be declared on 10 March.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP scored a comprehensive victory in Uttar Pradesh. Winning 312 of 403 seats, the saffron party left its competitors far behind to score its biggest victory in this crucial state of the Hindi belt.

In terms of the vote share data, the BJP polled at 39.7 percent, followed by the BSP with 22.2 percent and SP 21.8 percent. Congress could get only 6.3 percent (over 54 lakh votes).

With inputs from agencies

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