The exodus from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which began soon after the last year’s drubbing it received in the Lok Sabha elections, is yet to halt even as the leaders, most of them Dalits, deserting the party are joining BJP with an eye on the reserved category Assembly seats in UP.
More than a dozen leaders have already quit Mayawati-led party and joined the BJP with the latest addition being Deenanath Bhaskar, founder member of the BSP and former minister. Bhaskar will formally join the saffron party at a programme in Bhadohi on May 14. He had resigned from the BSP last month.
Most of those who have switched over to the BJP have been attracted by the party’s performance in constituencies reserved for scheduled castes in the last Lok Sabha elections.
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BJP won all 17 reserved Lok Sabha seats in UP. Most of those who have joined the BJP are eyeing one or the other reserved seat to contest.
Former DGP Brij Lal, who was close to Mayawati during her last government, joined the BJP, surprising those aware of his proximity to the former CM. A native of Siddharthnagar district, he is hopeful of contesting from Aurai reserved seat of the district, sources said.
BJP’s performance on 85 reserved Assembly seats in UP was dismal during 2012 polls. The party had won only three seats and currently has only two Dalit MLAs, having lost one more reserved seat to SP in last year’s byelection. In 2007 Assembly elections, the party had won only seven reserved seats.
BSP MP Jugul Kishore’s wife and son, too, have joined the BJP. Kishore’s son Saurabh is hopeful of contesting from Kasta seat. Kishore, once a close aide of Mayawati, is also likely to join the saffron party when his Rajya Sabha term ends next year.
Former MLC and coordinator of the BSP, Srinath, recently joined the BJP along with his wife. A Dalit, he hopes to contest from Salempur seat.
Former coordinator of the BSP, Udai Bhan, a Dalit, joined BJP in July last year. He is seeking ticket from Mahadeva reserved seat in Basti district.
“BJP does not have enough capable candidates for the reserved seats. And Dalits see that this time the BJP may get maximum of these seats as the BSP did in 2007 and the SP in 2012,” said a former BSP leader.
A prominent OBC leader, Dara Singh Chauhan, who was BSP’s leader in Lok Sabha before losing the election last year, has joined BJP after his expulsion from the party.
Former MLC Hargovind Singh also joined the BJP. He lost his membership of Legislative Council after joining the BJP. Former MP from Bhadohi, Gorakhnath Pandey joined the BJP last year. While BSP MLA from Mohammadi in Kheri, Bala Prasad Awashthi is still waiting to make a move, his son has also joined BJP.
“Deenanath Bhaskar has been working with the BSP since its initial days and has supporters in his area. Others like retired bureaucrats are joining the BJP because they think that the party will do better than the BSP and SP,” said Ram Lakhan Pasi, a former BSP leader.