DAYS AFTER three Opposition Members of the Legislative Council in Uttar Pradesh — two Samajwadi Party and one Bahujan Samaj Party — resigned and joined the BJP, the SP lost one more MLC on Friday. Associated with SP for 22 years, Sarojini Agrawal’s second term as MLC was due to end in January 2021. “The atmosphere in SP has changed since Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) is not party chief. I am an old Samajwadi, but was feeling uneasy in the current SP structure,” said Agrawal, who joined the BJP soon after submitting her resignation.
Confirming that Agrawal had joined the party, state BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said: “Following conflicts within the SP family, their leaders are seeking their political future in other parties.”
Legislative Council chairman Ramesh Yadav accepted Agrawal’s resignation and notified that her seat had fallen vacant. With this, the BJP has secured four seats in the Legislative Council. Currently, five members of the State Cabinet, including CM Yogi Adityanath himself, are not members of either House. They have to be members of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council by September 19.
“Another Opposition MLC, most probably from the SP, will resign in the next couple of days to join the BJP,” said a BJP leader.
While there was speculation earlier that Adityanath may contest elections from an Assembly seat (Campierganj of Gorakhpur Sadar in Gorakhpur or Ayodhya), BJP sources said he, along with Deputy CMs Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, may opt to become MLCs instead. Two other ministers — Swatantra Deo Singh and Mohsin Raza — are also likely to seek seats in the Legislative Council. Currently, the BJP has only eight MLCs.
A BJP leader said the stage for the resignations was set on July 28, a day before BJP president Amit Shah arrived in Lucknow. “All the five names were decided, and they were in touch with BJP,” he said, adding that all the five BJP ministers were likely to enter the Legislative Council.
Adityanath and Maurya are both Lok Sabha members. “As Yogiji and Keshavji had to vote in the presidential and vice-presidential elections, they have not resigned their Lok Sabha membership yet. They will resign after the vice-presidential poll on Saturday. As they have to become members of either House by September 19, there isn’t much time left for getting MLAs to vacate seats and conducting bypolls,” said a BJP leader.
But state party spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi maintained that the “party leadership is yet to decide whether these five leaders will contest elections or will become MLCs”. He pointed out that “Adityanathji is a five-time MP, Mauryaji is also an MP and was earlier an MLA, and Dinesh Sharma won mayoral elections by a record margin”.