August 30, 2021 4:35:32 am
In a blow to the BSP, Rajbhar, who represents Azamgarh district’s Didarganj seat in the Assembly, announced his retirement from politics on July 31, and said his son Kamlakant (Pappu) would follow Akhilesh’s leadership.
Kamlakant, who was present at the meeting between the SP president and his father, told reporters, “My father has been suffering from post-Covid complications since he got infected last year. The visit by Akhilesh ji was not political. He had come to check on my father’s health. We are grateful that he came all the way.”
Senior SP leaders said the visit was significant, given Sukhdev Rajbhar’s stature in his community in Azamgarh. “The visit sends a message to the Rajbhar community that Akhilesh ji is standing with them. All of us know that the BSP has disappointed many of its senior leaders, and hence the visit should help the SP transfer some of BSP’s votes towards the party in next year’s polls,” said a senior leader.
In a letter announcing his retirement from politics, the 75-year-old Rajbhar had warned that the Bahujan movement was weakening. He wrote, “As you all know, I have been an active member of the BSP since the beginning. Along with Kanshi Ram, I have fought for the rights of the oppressed, marginalised, Dalits and Backwards. In today’s changing time, I feel the voice of the oppressed, marginalised, Dalits and Backwards is being suppressed by the government. In these circumstances, the Bahujan movement is getting weak.”
Several senior BSP leaders have either quit the party or faced disciplinary action in recent months. On Saturday, former state minister Ambika Chaudhary left the Mayawati-led party and joined the SP. The exodus began soon after Mayawati expelled Lalji Verma and Ram Achal Rajbhar, two of the party’s most prominent leaders, on June 3 for “indulging in anti-party activities” during the panchayat polls. Verma was the BSP’s leader in the state assembly while Rajbhar had been the party’s state chief, and even served as a minister in previous BSP governments.
On June 15, at least five expelled BSP MLAs met Akhilesh in Lucknow, leading to speculation about them joining the SP in the run-up to next year’s state elections.
Executive panel members of SP’s Vahini named
Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday appointed the executive committee for the Samajwadi Lohia Vahini, a frontal organisation of the party. A total of 51 members were appointed to the frontal outfit. While Pradeep Kumar from Kanpur was appointed as Vahini’s president, Akshay Chaudhary from Gautam Budh Nagar, Mohammad Haroon from Dehradun and Shahzada Kaleem from Pratapgarh were named as vice presidents.
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