Two sitting MLAs, a former MP, a former chairman of the UP Legislative Council and several other Brahmin leaders joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) in presence of party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow on Sunday.
Of the legislators who joined the SP, Vinay Shankar Tiwari, the MLA from Chillupur in Gorakhpur district, was with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) before being expelled by Mayawati last week. The other state legislator who joined the SP is Digvijay Narayan Chaubey, who was elected from Khalilabad in Sant Kabir Nagar district on a BJP ticket.
The former two-time MP from Sant Kabir Nagar, Bhishma Shankar “Kushal” Tiwari, who is Vinay Shankar’s elder brother, also joined the SP along with former UP Legislative Council chairperson Ganesh Shankar Pandey. The Tiwaris and Pandey were expelled from the BSP last Monday for alleged indiscipline, and for allegedly not behaving properly with senior leaders. The three are among several former BSP leaders such as Lalji Verma and Ram Achal Rajbhar who have joined the SP in the last few weeks.
Welcoming the new leaders, Akhilesh said people had decided to oust the BJP from power. “Now, with Samajwadis, all Ambedkarwadis are also here. When the two meet, it is definite that the BJP will be swept out. That is because everyone is being targeted,” he added.
The Tiwari brothers’ father Hari Shankar Tiwari has been a six-time MLA from Chillupur. He is a former Cabinet minister and considered to be a strong Brahmin face in east UP.
Vinay Shankar, who unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections on a BSP ticket from Gorakhpur against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, said he joined the SP since Akhilesh Yadav is a “popular leader”. He added, “This [current] government was not formed for democracy, but for autocracy. They have banned free speech. This government has also started putting its plaques on foundation stones or development work done by other governments.”
Vinay Shankar said the BJP government had sown seeds of hatred and divided people. While the ground reality was very different, the BJP put up big hoardings advertising “its achievements”, he added. “They have spent most of the government money on advertisements.”
The MLA also alleged that Brahmins had faced injustice under the current government. “The injustice done to the Brahmin community has been the most under the current government,” he said, alleging that the UP government “had started a policy of encounters in the state”.
The Chillupur MLA said an SP government would send a proposal to the Centre to make Gorakhpur University a central university. He also said the party, if voted to power, would build canteens to provide free nutritious meals to poor people.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh said people struggled for beds, oxygen and treatment during the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking about human rights, he added, “The maximum number of notices from NHRC have been served to the current UP government. A businessman was killed by policemen in a Gorakhpur hotel after he was beaten up till he died.