A day after the BJP’s senior OBC leader Swami Prasad Maurya resigned from the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet less than a month before the UP Assembly elections while signalling that he was headed to the Samajwadi Party (SP), another senior OBC leader Dara Singh Chauhan resigned from the Adityanath ministry on Wednesday. Chauhan met SP president Akhilesh Yadav in an indication that he may also join the BJP’s principal rival ahead of the polls beginning 10 February.
Chauhan tendered his resignation from his position of Minister for Forests, Environment and Animal Husbandry. In his resignation letter to UP Governor Anandiben Patel, which was identical to the one submitted by Maurya on Tuesday, he stated that he was upset by the Yogi Adityanath government’s alleged neglect of backward communities, deprived sections, Dalits, farmers and unemployed youths, and by BJP government’s “khilwad” (play) with reservation of backwards and Dalits.
After meeting Chauhan, the SP chief called him a “soldier of social justice” and welcomed him into his party fold. “Sabko samman, sabko sthan,” (Respect for everyone, place for everyone), Akhilesh stated while tweeting the photograph of Chauhan meeting him.
Chauhan, who belongs to the backward Lonia-Chauhan caste concentrated in east UP’s Azamgarh and Varanasi divisions, had started his political career with the BSP and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1996 as its nominee. He then joined the SP and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2000 as an SP candidate. He also became a member of the SP’s National Executive.
Later, Chauhan returned to the BSP and became Ghosi MP in 2009. He was then also appointed as the leader of the BSP parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha. In 2014, he contested from Ghosi as a BSP nominee but lost against the BJP. After his expulsion from the BSP, Chauhan switched over to the BJP in 2015. He subsequently impressed top BJP leader Amit Shah by organising a huge rally of backwards in Azamgarh. Shah was the chief guest in that rally. A few days later, Singh was appointed the national president of the BJP’s OBC morcha.
The BJP fielded Chauhan from the Madhuban constituency in Mau district in the 2017 UP Assembly polls. He won the election comfortably and was inducted as a minister in the Adityanath Cabinet.
“But he was not comfortable with BJP workers. He used to move with those associates who had been with him from his BSP days. BJP cadre was upset with him. He had sensed that he may lose the next election on BJP ticket due to resentment among party workers. He had started expressing displeasure with the Adityanath government six months back. The BJP had guessed his possible move and hence he was not engaged in Jan Vishwas Yatra when it travelled in Mau district,” claimed a Mau BJP leader.
On November 22 last year, Chauhan had posted a message on social media to wish SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav on his birth anniversary. In that message, he had called Yadav, “Garib majloomon ka maseeha, pichdon ke karndhaar aur pure awaam ki awaz” (messiah of poor and oppressed, leader of backwards and voice of all people).