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UP: Setback to BSP, 6 suspended MLAs join SP; more may follow

They were suspended by BSP chief Mayawati after they had opposed the party's official candidate Ramji Gautam for the Rajya Sabha in October 2020. They had reportedly met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav in June this year.

By: Express News Service | Lucknow |
Updated: October 31, 2021 4:23:17 am
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav at a press conference in Lucknow on Saturday. (Express Photo by Vishal Srivastav)

In a blow to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), its six suspended MLAs on Saturday joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) at its Lucknow headquarters in the presence of party president Akhilesh Yadav. Rebel BJP MLA from Sitapur Rakesh Rathore too switched to the SP the same day.

The six BSP MLAs are Sushma Patel (Mungra Badshahpur, Jaunpur), Aslam Ali (Dholana, Hapur), Hakim Lal Bind (Handia, Prayagraj), Mohammad Mujtaba Siddiqui (Pratappur, Prayagraj), Hargovind Bhargava (Sidhauli, Sitapur), Aslam Raini (Bhinga, Shravasti). They were suspended by BSP chief Mayawati after they had opposed the party’s official candidate Ramji Gautam for the Rajya Sabha in October 2020. They had reportedly met Akhilesh Yadav in June this year and hinted at defecting to the SP.

Sources claimed that two more prominent BSP MLAs — Lalji Verma and Ram Achal Rajbhar — may soon follow suit. They were suspended in June this year for sharing stage with Akhilesh during the recent panchayat polls.

Taking to Twitter, Akhilesh claimed that the BJP would not get enough ticket-aspirants “even if it declares 403 chief ministers” as the party was staring at a defeat in the Assembly polls. The strength of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly is 403.

In an audio clip earlier this year, Rathore was purportedly heard criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for asking people to clap, and clang bells and plates during the Covid-19 pandemic. The BJP show-caused him to explain his alleged anti-party activities.

With the BSP crackdown on rebels, the party’s strength in the Assembly has dropped to seven MLAs, including jailed strongman Mukhtar Ansari, from 19. Ramveer Upadhyay (Sadabad, Hathras) and Anil Singh (Purwa, Unnao) are also among the suspended MLAs.

Addressing a press conference at the party’s Lucknow headquarters, the SP chief welcomed the seven MLAs into the party saying that they were hopeful that the SP was going to form the government after the 2022 Assembly polls.

“With Rakesh Rathore ji joining us, there is a possibility that the chief minister (Yogi Adityanath) might change his party’s slogan from ‘Mera Pariwar, BJP Pariwar’ to ‘Mera Pariwar, Bhaagta (fleeing) Pariwar’… There is so much anger among the people that the BJP will be cleaned out from the state. Their slogan will change,” Akhilesh said.

“I heard that the BJP, from the dais, had said that 90 per cent of its promises before the 2017 polls have been fulfilled and the rest, it said, would be completed in the next two months. It seems they threw their manifesto into the dustbin after 2017. They never turned its pages… They have forgotten it. The first promise in their 2017 manifesto was that farmers’ income would be doubled by 2022. All essential items have become expensive and sugarcane farmers are still waiting for their payment. You can look at any page in its manifesto. Not one promise has been fulfilled,” the SP chief said.

Addressing a poll rally in Lucknow on Friday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said Adityanath and his team had fulfilled more than 90 per cent of the manifesto promises and would meet the rest in the next couple of months.

Countering the BJP claim, the SP chief said the farming infrastructure had not improved in the last five years. “This is the reason why our migrant workers, who returned to the state (during the pandemic) had to go back to the cities (where they work),” Akhilesh said.

“They were supposed to give tablets to students. It has still not happened. I don’t know when it will happen. Our educational institutes have been ruined. People, with a particular line of thinking, have been appointed at institutes so that such appointments can continue for years,” the SP chief claimed.

Targeting the Congress, the former chief minister said they were the same as the BJP. Asked if he would ally with his uncle Shivpal Yadav’s party, the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP), Akhilesh said, “His respect will remain intact.”

On the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which four farmers and a journalist were run over by a convoy of cars, including one belonging to Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra, Akhilesh said, “Is there anyone who did not watch the video where the MoS is heard saying that he is something else apart from being an MP and minister? Now, the same person is being welcomed on the stage by the BJP. Do you think justice will be done to the farmers?”

Asked about Shah’s comment that girls could now walk freely at night, Akhilesh said first, the crime data needed to be studied.

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