Six MLAs, including three from Congress, two from BSP and one from ruling SP, on Thursday joined BJP with their supporters in presence of party state president Keshav Prasad Maurya.
They were Congress’ Sanjay Pratap Jaiswal, Vijay Kumar Dubey and Madhuri Verma, BSP’s Rajesh Tripathi and Bala Prasad Awasthi and SP’s Sher Bahadur.
Congress had expelled Rudhauli (Basti) MLA Jaiswal, Khadda (Kushinagar) MLA Dubey and Nanpara (Bahraich) MLA Madhuri Verma, along with three others, for anti-party activities after they cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha elections in June. The other three expelled Congress MLAs — Mohammed Muslim, Dilnawaz Khand and Kazim ali Khan — had joined BSP on Wednesday.
A first-time MLA, Jaiswal was also Congress’ Lok Sabha candidate for Basti in 2014 polls, but had to withdraw after an FIR of rape was lodged against him in Lucknow on the directive of a local court. “The charge of rape was not established, and hence it was not mentioned in the police chargesheet. The case was fabricated, and it was also a setback for my political career,” said Jaiswal, adding that he was disappointed with lack of “inner democracy in Congress”.
Meanwhile, while Bala Prasad Awasthi was the BSP MLA from Mohammadi in Lakhimpur, Tripathi is the party MLA from Chillupar in Gorakhpur. Later, BSP chief Mayawati said in a statement: “The party had cancelled the tickets given to both the MLAs because of complaints against them and hence, they switched over to BJP.”
She claimed that BJP was using “tactics to weaken BSP and strengthen SP”. “Besides being a political party, BSP is also a movement of social change. Therefore, it does not induct ‘aya ram, gaya ram’ in its fold,” Mayawati added.
SP MLA from Jalalpur in Ambedkar Nagar, Sher Bahadur, is a five-time MLA. He had been elected to the Assembly in 1980 (Congress), 1985 (Independent), 1996 (BJP), 2007 (BSP) and in 2012 (SP). He will not contest the 2017 UP polls as he is 85 years old and ailing. His son Rajesh Singh is preparing to contest the polls.
At the joining ceremony, Maurya claimed there was an exodus in BSP, SP and Congress. “There is misrule and goondaraj in UP, against which BJP was fighting… There were immense possibilities of development in UP, but the state government was blocking the same with all its efforts… Whatever is happening in the state is due to nexus of BSP and SP,” he said, adding that more leaders from other parties, including sitting MLAs, are set to join BJP soon.
The SP, on the other hand, alleged that the BJP-led central government had “failed” on all fronts, and was trying to mislead people. “It was making efforts to win election on the basis of imported faces. The rejected stuff not required by any party is being inducted by BJP,” SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said, adding that leaders who had lost their relevance were searching for new shelters. “If BJP leaders feel they are gaining popularity, then it is their misnomer,” he said.
Meanwhile, a delegation of BJP leaders led by Keshav Prasad Maurya on Thursday met Governor Ram Naik, demanding a CBI probe into the recent Bulandshahr gangrape case. They also demanded action against SP minister Azam Khan for allegedly terming the incident a “political conspiracy”. The party staged protests in all districts on Thursday against the incident.