DHARM SINGH Saini, MLA from Nakur Assembly seat of Saharanpur and former minister in the Mayawati government, has quit BSP and accused its leadership of demanding Rs 6 crore for a ticket in the 2017 polls, which the party had denied to him a few days ago.
The departure of Saini, an OBC leader and three-time MLA from BSP since 2002, comes as the latest one in the series of desertions and expulsions of backward caste leaders from the party in last few months. He is also the third MLA from west UP to quit the party after Mayawati’s rally in Saharanpur on September 11. Earlier this week, MLA from Behat in Saharanpur, Mahavir Rana, and MLA from Nahtaur in Bijnor, Om Kumar — a Dalit — had joined BJP.
Several party workers from Nakur have also left BSP in protest, They met Saini on Sunday to decide on further action. “I was asked to pay Rs 6 crore for the ticket but I declined. Then the party gave the ticket to someone who could give that much money. The leaders said my ticket has been cancelled because I met Swami Prasad Maurya (former BSP general secretary who joined BJP on August 8), but this was a month ago,” Saini said.
“If they had to do this, they should have done this when I met him. I spent lakhs on preparation for Mayawati’s September 11 rally here,” he added.
Saini said Maurya had come to his house after his sister-in-law’s death and no political discussion took place.
Saini, who was first elected an MLA in 2002 as a BSP nominee, won the polls in 2007 and 2012. He was basic education minister in the Mayawati government between 2007 and 2012, and chairman of Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee after 2012. He said he began his career in BSP and has been in the party for 15 years.
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“The party decided to cancel his ticket as it was found that he was getting close to BJP,” said a BSP leader. While Saini did not deny the possibility of him joining BJP, he said he will take a decision after consulting his supporters.
Saini is the sixth OBC MLA from BSP among 11, who have quit the party or have been expelled after differences with the leadership.