Other backward class (OBC) leader Dharam Singh Saini on Thursday became the third minister to quit the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet as the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) finalised its candidates for 172 Assembly seats.
The party is likely to field both Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya, who are currently members of the legislative council, leaders said.
Also on Thursday, Shikohabad BJP MLA Mukesh Verma resigned from the party.
Polling in most of these 172 seats will be held in the initial phases beginning February 10 and the party is also considering fielding the other Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma and state unit president Swatantra Dev Singh.
Addressing the media at the BJP headquarters, Maurya said the party held wider deliberations on the 172 assembly seats. BJP president J P Nadda and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, all three of whom have contracted Covid-19, joined the meeting via video conferencing, while Home Minister Amit Shah and several other leaders besides those from UP, met physically.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the meeting virtually.
Earlier, Saini, who was the minister of state (independent charge) for Ayush, appeared headed to the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party as Yadav posted a picture of himself with Saini on Twitter. The SP president had earlier put out pictures of OBC leaders Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan with himself after the latter had resigned from the Adityanath cabinet on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
In his resignation letter addressed to Governor Anandiben Patel, which was circulating on social media on Thursday, Saini said he was quitting over the continued neglect of the aspirations of dalits, backwards, farmers, educated unemployed, and small and mid-level traders who together gave the BJP a sweeping majority in the 2017 UP elections.
Meanwhile, Verma cited UP government's ‘lack of respect’ towards backward classes and dalits as the reason behind his decision to resign.
Verma, who is also expected to join the SP, said he would continue the ‘fight for justice’ under Maurya.
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