Samajwadi Party founder member Ashok Bajpai joined the BJP on Saturday, taking the total number of former MLCs, who had resigned within the last month from the House, to do so to five.
Former SP MLCs Sarojini Agrawal, Bukkal Nawab and Yashwant Singh, and Thakur Jaiveer Singh, formerly a BSP MLC, joined the ruling party earlier.
Deputy CM and BJP state president Keshav Prasad Maurya, who was presenting during Bajpai’s induction at the party state headquarters in Lucknow, claimed that more senior leaders from SP and BSP may join BJP in coming days.
“BJP will work to strengthen itself. It is responsibility of SP, BSP and Congress to strengthen their respective organsiations. Our party is working in a direction to strengthen the base of BJP,” he added. Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Kalraj Mishra too were present at the occasion.
Several other SP leaders and their supporters, known loyalists of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Singh Yadav, too accompanied Bajpai to join BJP. They include former national president of Samajwadi Vyapar Sabha, Hulas Rai Singhal and former state president of SP women wing, Shweta Singh. Former BSP in-charge for Gujarat state Munshilal Jayant too joined BJP Saturday.
Although the resignations could be an opportunity to pave the way for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Deputy CMs Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma and ministers Swatantra Deo Singh and Mohsin Raza to the state upper house (they are not member of either the Assembly or Legislative Council at the moment), sources said the BJP may re-elect a few of them to the Legislative Council next year.
Rajnath Singh, on the occasion, said that he had association with Bajpai since 1977 when both were elected to the Assembly for the first time. He further said that he had noticed Bajpai was inclined towards BJP ideology even during his stint with the SP.
Bajpai was SP candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Lucknow but he was replaced with the lesser-known Abhishek Mishra after Rajnath was declared the BJP candidate.