BJP Corporator and party’s Braj region unit vice-president, Kundanika Sharma, joined SP on Saturday. She was arrested in Agra on March 21 for allegedly giving a hate speech at a condolence meeting held for murdered VHP district vice-president Arun Mahaur in February. Sharma is currently out on bail.
Prominent among others who joined SP on Saturday was Allahabad University student union president Richa Singh, who was recently felicitated by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav with Rani Laxmibai bravery award. The others who joined the party in the presence of SP state in-charge and cabinet minister Shivpal Singh Yadav were BJP’s Amarjeet Singh Jansevak and former state Congress secretary Paristosh Tripathi.
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At the event, Shivpal announced Sharma as the SP candidate from Agra North for the 2017 Assembly polls. She would contest against BJP’s four-time MLA Jagan Prasad Garg, who too had addressed the Agra condolence meet in February. Jansevak, meanwhile, would contest from Bindaki.
Alleging that BJP has started ignoring dedicated workers, Sharma claimed while she had been with the party for 27 years, she was feeling suffocated for the last few months. Speaking to The Indian Express, Sharma alleged that senior BJP leaders like Union Minister Ram Shanker Katheria and Fatehpur Sikri MP Chaudhary Babulal, who were also present on stage at the Agra condolence meet, had got junior leaders like her framed in the case of hate speech to protect themselves.
“It should be probed who delivered the hate speech… SP in power is necessary to give reply to communal forces,” said Sharma, who was also the leader of BJP corporators in Agra Municipal Corporation. In her speech at the Agra meet, Sharma had allegedly said: “Chhapa maaro, burqa pehno, lekin inhen gher-gher kar le aao. Ek sar ke badle dus sar kaat lo”.
When contacted, Chaudhary Babulal claimed Sharma was making false allegations after joining SP. “No senior leader or any party MP has framed any worker. The administration has taken action independently,” he said.
Sharma’s father, poet and lyricist Gopal Das Neeraj — a Padma Bhushan awardee — is the chairman of Bhasha Sansthan in UP government, with the rank of a cabinet minister. Known to be a firebrand pro-Hindutva leader, Sharma was earlier associated with VHP women’s wing Durga Vahini.
Richa Singh, after joining SP, termed BJP as anti-youth and anti-women. “The SP is functioning with the ideology of socialism and promoting students in politics irrespective of their caste, religion and gender.., We had prevented saffronisation of Allahabad University by not allowing BJP MP Yogi Adityanath to enter the campus. Now, we will prevent BJP’s attempt to saffronise the state,” Singh said. She also described new BJP state president Keshav Prasad Maurya as anti-women “as he had expelled a Mahila Morcha leader soon after his appointment”.
The name of Singh, who faces an internal inquiry on the validity of her admission that could lead to her expulsion, was included at the last moment in the recipient list of the Rani Laxmibai bravery award. Unlike other recipients, who were informed much in advance, Singh was reportedly informed about it only a day before the award ceremony. Her name did not find mention in the booklet — containing details of each award winner — the UP government had got published and distributed.
Singh maintained she has no plans to contest the Assembly elections. However, Shivpal said the party may consider her if she will wishes to contest.
Meanwhile, Amarjeet Singh Jansevak, who would contest from Bindaki, had joined BJP on July 17 last year after leaving SP. He was elected MLA as a BJP nominee from Bindaki in 1993 and 2002. He had been the secondary education minister in BJP-BSP government in 2002.
Despite being the sitting BJP MLA in 2002, Jansevak had joined SP and got a ticket for the 2007 state polls. He lost the polls. In the 2012 Assembly polls, SP again announced his candidature but canceled it later. Jansevak, a former RSS worker, went on to join BJP saying he had not get respect in SP.
While re-joining SP on Saturday, Jansevak said no BJP leader had welcomed him when he returned to Fatehpur after joining the party. “But SP workers gave me regard. Recently, at a wedding in the family of Shivpal Yadav, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav asked me to join SP and I agreed,” he added.
Jansevak claimed he was unhappy with Maurya’s appointment as the BJP state president because criminal cases were lodged against him. “Laxmikant Bajpai was a better state BJP president but the party appointed a tainted backward leader. If I have to work under a backward caste leader, why should I not work under Mulayam Singh Yadav?” he asked.