In 2016, when a bitter feud was in progress in the Samajwadi Party’s first family, with Akhilesh Yadav on one side and his uncle and then state party chief Shivpal Yadav on the other, party leader Naresh Agrawal was seen as being at the centre of efforts to bridge the chasm and “reunite” the family.
When Akhilesh took charge of the SP as national president, Agrawal sided with him and was rewarded with the post of party national general secretary. On Monday, when he joined the BJP, Agrawal expressed his affection for SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav as well as his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, saying he could never leave them – besides praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Over his political career of more than three decades, Agrawal has had stints in the Congress, SP and BSP, before joining the BJP. He is currently an SP MP in Rajya Sabha. While he has won elections under two different parties. A seven-time MLA from Hardoi district in central UP, Agrawal quit the SP Monday after the party chose to nominate Jaya Bachchan to the RS.
Hardoi is also from where the BJP has picked another former SP leader Ashok Bajpai as the RS nominee. Agrawal was elected to the Upper House in 2010 as the BSP nominee and was re-elected in 2012 as the SP candidate. This was his second stint in the SP after leaving in 2008 to join the BSP. Then, Mayawati had appointed him party national general secretary and even fielded him in the Lok Sabha election from Farrukhabad 2009, which he lost.
When the BSP denied his son Nitin a ticket in the assembly elections, he returned to the SP in 2011.
Agrawal was first elected MLA in 1980 from the Hardoi seat under the Congress banner and again in 1989 as an independent. Soon after, he joined the Congress again and won three successive assembly elections in in 1991, 1993 and 1996.
He won the seat again in 2002 and 2007, this time with the SP. In the 2012 assembly elections, Agrawal passed on his legacy to his son Nitin, who was elected MLA from the same seat and was even made a minister under former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Nitin is presently SP MLA from Hardoi even as Agrawal Monday announced his vote would favour the BJP in the RS elections.
The loss of Nitin’s vote will hurt the SP, which has fielded one candidate and has promised support to the BSP.
Agrawal was also part of the Kalyan Singh-led BJP government after forming the Loktantrik Congress and was minister in the BJP governments led by Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh. He was also power and transport minister in the Mulayam Singh Yadav government between 2003 and 2007.
Agrawal, who made comments about ‘dance karne wali’ Monday, has often made controversial remarks and been outspoken in Rajya sabha. In December 2017, Agarwal had raised a controversy when he said Kulbhushan Jadhav had been declared a terrorist by Pakistan, and that the country would treat him like one. He issued a clarification later.
In July last year, Agarwal made controversial remarks – which were later expunged – about Hindu gods, sparking a protest by the BJP in Rajya Sabha. Agarwal later apologised.