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Arun Sagar, BJP MP who talked of irregularities in govt scheme in UP a Dalit, ex-BSP leader

Arun Sagar is a former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader, who was fielded by the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Shahjahanpur by denying ticket to the then Union minister and sitting MP, Krishna Raj.

MP Arun Kumar Sagar. (Photo: Facebook/Arun Kumar Sagar)

The BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur, Arun Kumar Sagar, who has highlighted alleged irregularities in implementation of development works under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in his constituency, is a prominent Dalit leader in the Rohilkhand region.

Raising this issue in the Lok Sabha last Tuesday, Sagar said the works under the JJM has been allocated to a Hyderabad-based firm in his constituency. Alleging that public money was being misused and the government’s image was being tarnished, he urged the Centre to order an inquiry into the alleged irregularities.

However, when The Indian Express contacted him on Wednesday, Sagar said he has received the government’s reply on the issue he raised and that he was “satisfied” with it. When asked whether there were irregularities in implementation of the JJM, Sagar replied in negative.

The JJM is a central government scheme with the objective to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India. The BJP is in power at the Centre as well as in UP.

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Sagar is a former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader, who was fielded by the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Shahjahanpur by denying ticket to the then Union minister and sitting MP, Krishna Raj.

Sagar, 46, who hails from the Jatav community had started his political innings with the BSP,

where party supremo Mayawati appointed him the Shahjahanpur district party president four times. Later, he was elevated to the position of the BSP’s zonal coordinator.

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In 2008, during the previous Mayawati-led UP government, Sagar was given the rank of a minister of state (MoS) at the age of 32.

He debuted in the 2012 UP Assembly elections from Powayan (SC-reserved) seat, but could not win, even as the BSP lost the polls.

In 2015, a year after the Narendra Modi-led BJP swept to power at the Centre, Sagar switched to the BJP from the BSP. The BJP appointed Sagar as the vice president of the party’s Braj region unit. BJP sources said he had demanded a ticket to contest the 2017 Assembly poll from Powayan, but the party denied it while assuring him of a “bigger role” in future.

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In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when the party fielded him from Shahjahanpur in Krishna Raj’s place, Sagar won the seat by defeating the BSP’s Amara Chandra Jauhar, who was the BSP-SP’s joint candidate. He garnered a record 6.88 lakh votes.

When Parliament is not in session, Sagar prefers to stay in his constituency to attend the BJP’s organisational programmes, inspect the ongoing development works and meet people.

“He (Sagar) used to stay updated with local issues. When he noticed the irregularities in implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in a particular area, he made complaint with the local officials. But during the inspection he found such irregularities in more villages, so he raised the matter in Parliament,” said Narendra Maurya, Sagar’s representative in the Shahjahanpur constituency.

By alleging irregularities in implementation of the JJM in Shahjahanpur and demanding a probe, Sagar has however seemed to have upset the BJP dispensation in the state. UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi declined to comment when asked about his allegations.

UP’s jal shakti minister Swatantra Dev Singh, who is also the state BJP president, was not available for his comments.

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A Shahjahanpur BJP leader says, “He (Sagar) has raised a local issue at the level of Parliament, possibly looking at the upcoming Lok Sabha elections when he will seek a second term.” The leader says Sagar engages with local people and remains concerned about their grievances. Sources said that Krishna Raj has also stepped up her participation in the BJP’s organisational events in recent days to be in the race for the party ticket in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls from the same constituency.

In the recent state polls, the BJP improved its performance in Shahjahanpur by winning its all six Assembly seats as compared to five seats in the 2017 polls.

First published on: 28-07-2022 at 17:56 IST
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