September 25, 2021 10:16:43 am
Two prominent Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs who were expelled by the party in June met Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav on Friday. A source in the SP claimed that Lalji Verma and Ram Achal Rajbhar would join the party in the first week of October.
After meeting the two, Akhilesh tweeted a photograph with the caption, “Courtesy meeting with Shri Lalji Verma Ji and Shri Ram Achal Rajbhar Ji.”
On June 3, BSP president Mayawati expelled the senior leaders, both of whom are from the Kurmi community, for “indulging in anti-party activities” during this year’s panchayat polls. While Verma, the MLA from Katehari in Ambedkar Nagar district, was the leader of the party in the state Assembly, Rajbhar represents the district’s Akbarpur seat in the House and is a former state BSP chief. He has also been a minister in BSP governments.
A source in the SP told The Indian Express that Verma and Rajbhar would join the SP next month. “The date and other details regarding their joining have not been finalised but the two will join our party soon. It should happen in October’s first week.”
Verma told The Indian Express that the meeting with Akhilesh was merely a “courtesy meeting”. He added, “The national president of the party has tweeted the photograph saying it was a courtesy meeting and that was what it was. Nothing else has been decided yet.”
Asked if he had made up his mind about joining the SP, he said, “Let’s see. I can’t say much right now. When the time comes, I will inform the media about the next step.”
SP national spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary claimed that several BSP leaders, including some sitting MLAs, were in touch with the party and would join soon it.
“A formal announcement will be made soon regarding new joining. There are several BSP leaders who are in touch with us, including some sitting MLAs. They want to join the SP, and things are in process,” he added.
On June 15, at least five expelled BSP MLAs met Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow, and said afterwards that it was held to “discuss their future”. Some of the legislators were among the seven who faced action last October for opposing the nomination of the party’s official candidate Ramji Gautam during the Rajya Sabha elections. The seven MLAs were Chaudhary Aslam Ali (Dholana, Hapur) Hakim Lal Bind (Handia, Prayagraj), Mohammad Mujtaba Siddiqui (Pratappur, Prayagraj), Aslam Raini (Bhinga, Shravasti), Sushma Patel (Mungra Badshahpur, Jaunpur), Hargovind Bhargava (Sidhauli, Sitapur), and Bandana Singh (Sagdi, Azamgarh).
Before that, two more MLAs – Ramveer Upadhyay (Sadabad, Hathras) and Anil Singh (Purwa, Unnao) – had been expelled by the BSP, taking the total number of expelled legislators to 11. The party had also failed to retain the Jalalpur seat in a by-poll after its MLA Ritesh Pandey (Jalalpur) was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019. This left the Mayawati-led party, which won 19 seats in the 2017 state polls, with an effective strength of seven MLAs in the Assembly. Of them, one — Mukhtar Ansari — is in jail.