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UP Cabinet minister, 3 BJP MLAs resign, may join Samajwadi Party

Defections from across parties gaining traction as Assembly elections approach

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Assembly elections | UP Assembly Elections | Akhilesh Yadav

Virendra Singh Rawat & PTI  |  Lucknow 

Swami Prasad Maurya, akhilesh yadav
Former UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya (left) with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, in Lucknow on Tuesday (Photo: PTI)

Uttar Pradesh Minister Swami Prasad Maurya on Tuesday resigned from the state Cabinet and called upon (SP) President in Lucknow.

The setback to the the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came on a day when a key meeting to discuss the Ass­e­mbly polls, now just a month away, was taking place in Delhi. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya attended the meeting, as the party begins shortlisting its candidates.

Yadav shared a photo of him with Maurya on Twitter, and welcomed him into the SP fold. However, his daughter and the BJP’s Badaun MP Sanghamitra Maurya on Tuesday claimed her father has not joined any party and will reveal his strategy in a couple of days. On Twitter, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya urged the leader to reconsider his move.

The former UP minister, however, tweeted in Hindi: “Due to the attitude of gross neglect towards Dalits, backwards, farmers, unemployed youth and small and medium-sized traders, I am resigning from the council of ministers of Yogi (Adityanath) of UP.”

His daughter Sanghmitra Maurya is a BJP MP and represents Badaun in Lok Sabha.

The party hopping by known faces is gaining traction as seven-phase voting nears in Uttar Pradesh, which elects 403 legislators, the highest number in India.

Maurya has in the past been a member of the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) before joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run up to the 2017 UP elections.

Toeing his line, three other BJP members of legislative assembly (MLAs) — Roshan Lal Verma, Bhagwati Prasad Sagar, and Brajesh Prajapati —quit and are likely to join SP. In the recent week, four other BJP legislators Radha Krishna Sharma, Rakesh Rathore, Jay Chaubey, and Madhuri Verma have defected to the SP.

On Monday, Congress National Secretary Imran Masood, a prominent Muslim leader in Western UP, had joined the SP. Masood was among the closest lieutenants of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress general secretary in charge of UP. Besides, former Congress MP Harendra Malik and former MLAs Pankaj Malik have hopped on to the bicycle, which is SP’s party symbol.

Not to be browbeaten, the BJP has also been inducting leaders from other parties. A dozen Congress leaders, incl­uding Jitin Prasada, Sanjay Sinhn, Rani Ratna Singh, Am­eeta Singh, Gayadin Anuragi, Rakesh Singh, and Congress MLA Aditi Singh, have joined the BJP ahead of the elections.

Mayawati won’t contest

Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati will not contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, party general secretary S C Misra said on Tuesday. Mayawati is neither a legislator nor an MP. The BSP will contest all 403 seats in UP.

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First Published: Wed, January 12 2022. 00:01 IST
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