Among the three resignations by Samajwadi Party (SP) MPs from Rajya Sabha in past three weeks, the resignation by 58-year-old Sanjay Seth, also the national treasurer of the party, has come as a big surprise for the SP, even as it said that the development will not “impact the party”.
The resignation of Seth, of late considered “man Friday” of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, was accepted by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday, while Surendra Nagar and Neeraj Sekhar had resigned in the preceding weeks.
A realtor by profession, Seth, who bagged projects during both the SP and BSP regimes in the state, played significant role in bringing the two parties together during the recent Lok Sabha polls.
Before this, the Samajwadi Party had fought a long battle with then Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik to get him nominated to the Upper House of the state Legislative Council in 2015, failing which, he was sent to Rajya Sabha in 2016. He still had three years of his membership left.
“Leaders turning ambitious is not much of a surprise, but resignation of Seth is, because he enjoyed a good rapport with the family (Yadav). The party went out of its way for him in 2015 to send him to the Upper House in the state and then finally to Rajya Sabha along with leaders who had given years to the party,” said an SP leader.
Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said there are various things involved in these resignations, especially of Seth. “There are vested interest of individuals and then undue pressure from the ruling BJP. However, it would not leave an impact on us as public support towards Akhilesh Yadav is still intact,” said Samajwadi Party spokesperson Chaudhary.
However, many are not sure about the scenario it would lead to, especially with the resignations of members like Seth and Nagar, who had three years of their membership left in the Rajya Sabha.
Also the Samajwadi Party no longer enjoys numbers in the state Assembly like it used to in 2016 to send more loyalists to the Rajya Sabha. Thus, election on these seats now, would give the ruling BJP, having majority in the state Assembly, a better chance to get their candidates elected.
In 2015, the then Uttar Pradesh government had included Seth’s name among those sent to then governor Ram Naik for nomination on nine vacant seats in the Legislative Council. These seats were to be filled with nominated individuals representing different sections like social work, art, literature etc. However, the governor objected to some of the names, including Seth’s, first raising questions and then citing that he did not find them “worthy of nomination”. Several letters were exchanged between Chief Minister’s Office and governor house, over the issue, while Naik also sought details about the financial status of the nominees, he objected to, and specific works undertaken by them under the respective fields. Income Tax raids in the offices of Seth had started around the same time.
After months of tussle between the then Chief Minister’s Office and governor house, the Samajwadi Party then decided to send Seth to Rajya Sabha, making it a issue of prestige.
While Seth was earlier considered close to SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Prateek – step-brother of Akhilesh – when the family ties allegedly got strained before 2017 Assembly polls, he was given an important responsibility of the national treasurer of the party after Akhilesh took over as its national president.
Apart from getting contracts for important projects like Jai Prakash Narayan Museum in Lucknow, sources said that Seth’s company also designed and developed houses for Akhilesh and Mulayam. Not to mention, during inauguration of Jai Prakash Narayan Museum, just before the 2017 Assembly polls, then UP CM Akhilesh had congratulated Seth, apart from the government officials for the project.
In his latest stint, Seth is believed to have played significant role in the SP-BSP tie-up before the recent Lok Sabha polls. He was seen along with Akhilesh during significant meetings with the BSP and had become one of the significant faces of the party.