Among the 44 ministers who took oath with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were were nine turncoats — seven Cabinet ministers and two ministers of state (independent charge) — who joined BJP after its thumping victory in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
* Rita Bahuguna Joshi, 67
A former state Congress president and national spokesperson, Joshi was elected as MLA in 2012 from Lucknow Cantonment seat as a Congress nominee. She had quit the party in October last year while slamming party vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his remark that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was doing “khoon ki dalali” on the sacrifice of soldiers. This election, BJP fielded Joshi from the same Lucknow Cantonment seat where she defeated Aparna Yadav, daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. This will be Joshi’s first stint as a minister. She is daughter of former UP Chief Minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna. In July 2009, she was arrested for making an objectionable remark on then CM Mayawati. Joshi is the lone woman Cabinet minister in the Yogi Adityanath government.
* Swami Prasad Maurya, 63
A former leader of Opposition and BSP general secretary, Swami Prasad Maurya joined BJP in August last year. He was a minister in the BJP-BSP governments (1997 and 2002) and BSP regime of 2007. He lost in 2007 but was nominated as an MLC and made a minister by Mayawati. In 2017, he contested as BJP nominee from Padrauna and won. Swami Prasad was a prominent OBC face of BSP until he quit the party in June 2016 alleging that Mayawati was “auctioning” party tickets. According to party sources, Maurya started to get disillusioned when he was told he would not be renominated from Padrauna this year. He was the only BSP leader Mayawati had authorised to speak to the media.
* Dara Singh Chauhan, 53
Dara Singh Chauhan had started his political career with the BSP and later joined SP. He returned to the BSP and became Ghosi MP in 2009. Earlier, he was elected Rajya Sabha member in 1996 and 2000. In 2014, he contested against BJP from Ghosi as a BSP nominee but lost. He later joined the BJP and the party made him president of its OBC Morcha. He belongs to Lonia-Chauhan, a backward caste concentrated in east UP’s Azamgarh and Varanasi divisions. Chauhan belongs to Azamgarh. BJP gave him a ticket from Madhuban Assembly segment, where he defeated the SP-Congress alliance candidate.
* S P Singh Baghel, 56
Elected MP from Jalesar in 1998 as an SP nominee, S P Singh Baghel retained the seat in 1999 and 2004. He joined BSP in 2009 and was nominated to Rajya Sabha. He had lost the Lok Sabha election from Firozabad as a BSP nominee in 2009. He was a Rajya Sabha member of the BSP when he joined BJP before the 2014 LS polls and lost to SP’s Akshay Yadav – son of SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav – from Firozabad as a BJP candidate. The party made him national president of its OBC Morcha. An ex-police officer, he belongs to the Gaderiya backward caste. This time, he has won from Tundla — an SC seat. Baghel entered politics when SP fielded him in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, which he won from Jalesar.
* Brajesh Pathak, 52
Elected MLA from Lucknow Central seat where candidates of both SP and Congress were contesting despite an alliance between both parties, Brajesh Pathak had began his political career in Lucknow University as a student leader. He won his first election from Unnao in 2004 Lok Sabha polls on a BSP ticket. He was elected to Rajya Sabha in 2009. A key member of the BSP’s team of Brahmin leaders, he joined the BJP in August last year. BJP assigned him the task of improving the party’s reach among Brahmins. He was given an Assembly ticket and later a berth of Cabinet minister. He joined BJP in August, 2016, a day after sharing stage with BSP chief Mayawati at a rally.
* Laxmi Narain Chaudhary, 65
Laxmi Narain Chaudhary, a Jat leader, joined BJP in July 2015. He has won for the fourth time from Chhata seat of Mathura. Earlier, he won as a nominee of the Lok Dal in 1985, of Congress in 1996 and BSP in 2007. He lost the election in 2002 on the symbol of Akhil Bharatiya Loktantrik Congress. After his election as BSP MLA in 2007, he served as agriculture minister in the then Mayawati government. He lost his seat in 2012. In BSP, he was the party’s Jat face. He is the man whom Mayawati, as CM, had used as a crisis manager during the agitations against various projects. He headed the BSP political team that went around telling Jats that the Mayawati government was not anti-farmer, and would ensure they got right rates for their land.
* Nand Gopal Gupta ‘Nandi’, 42
A businessman in Allahabad, Gupta was Cabinet minister in the previous Mayawati government. He was elected MLA as a BSP nominee from Allahabad South in 2007. He lost the Assembly election in 2012. BSP later expelled him and his wife Abhilasha Gupta — the Allahabad mayor — for “anti-party activities’. Nandi later joined Congress and lost the Lok Sabha election from Allahabad seat as a party nominee. The couple joined BJP on January 20, 2017, in the presence of state party chief Keshav Prasad Maurya. Gupta’s induction was opposed by a section of BJP leaders in Allahabad district. BJP also gave him a ticket and has inducted him in the government as a Cabinet minister.
MINISTERS OF STATE (INDEPENDENT CHARGE)
* Dharam Singh Saini, 55
Dharam Singh Saini, a four-term MLA, was first elected in 2002 as a BSP nominee from Saraswan and appointed Cabinet minister in the Mayawati government in 2007 after election from the same seat. In 2012, he defeated Imran Masood of Congress and was appointed chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee of the Assembly. He joined BJP in September 2016 after BSP denied him a ticket. He defeated Masood again from Nakur seat. He belongs to the backward Saini caste. Saini had quit BSP last year and had accused the BSP leadership of demanding Rs 6 crore for a ticket in the 2017 polls. Several party workers from Nakur had also left BSP in support of Saini, who had then claimed that he had spent lakhs preparing for Mayawati’s September 11 rally in Saharanpur.
* Anil Rajbhar
Anil Rajbhar (44), is MLA from Shivpur Assembly segment of Varanasi district. Rajbhar, a backward caste leader, had served as advisor to the state Planning Commission, holding the status of minister of state during the previous Mulayam Singh Yadav government. He had also served as general secretary and state president of the Samajwadi Party Yuvjan Sabha till 2010. Rajbhar had lost the Assembly by-election in 2003 from Chiraigaon seat in Varanasi as an SP candidate. He had joined BJP in 2015 when he had organised a rally of ‘most backward castes’ in which BJP national president was invited as chief guest. Rajbhar is an agriculturist by profession.