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Thursday, January 27, 2022

UP: Third minister quits Yogi govt, 8 of 9 BJP rebels likely to join SP today

Dharam Singh Saini, Minister for Ayush and MLA from Nakur constituency in Saharanpur, Mukesh Verma, MLA from Shikohabad in Firozabad, and Awasthi Bala Prasad, MLA from Dhaurahra in Lakhimpur, were the three BJP MLAs who resigned Thursday.

Written by Asad Rehman , Lalmani Verma | Lucknow |
Updated: January 14, 2022 1:10:17 pm
Dharam Singh Saini , third UP BJP minister resigns, UP OMC bjp resignation, yogi adityanath, Uttar pradesh news, UP elections, indian expressDharam Singh Saini met Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav soon after resigning as UP minister. (Photo: Twitter/Akhilesh Yadav)

Amid the flurry of resignations from the Uttar Pradesh BJP, a minister and two MLAs resigned from the party Thursday, saying the government had not worked for the marginalised communities in the last five years.

Dharam Singh Saini, Minister for Ayush and MLA from Nakur constituency in Saharanpur, Mukesh Verma, MLA from Shikohabad in Firozabad, and Awasthi Bala Prasad, MLA from Dhaurahra in Lakhimpur, were the three BJP MLAs who resigned Thursday.

Read | BJP’s OBC push takes a hit, Yogi may feel heat as allies press advantage

BJP ally Apna Dal (S) MLA from Shohratgarh, Amar Singh Chaudhary, also left his party for the SP. Chaudhary, a backward caste leader, met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav Thursday.

Saini’s resignation was the third by a BJP minister in three days – Swami Prasad Maurya quit Tuesday and was followed by Dharam Singh Chauhan the next day. In identical letters of resignation, all ministers and MLAs alleged neglect of Dalits and backwards.

Awasthi Bala Prasad became the ninth MLA to leave the party. SP spokesperson and MLC Udaiveer Singh said Prasad met Akhilesh Yadav Thursday.

Sources said eight of the nine MLAs are expected to join the SP Friday in the presence of Akhilesh Yadav. After announcing his resignation, Saini too met the SP chief.

On the resignations of the MLAs and ministers, state BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said: “The BJP is going to contest the upcoming UP elections under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We are going to reach out to people showing the work done by the double-engine government. Those who are leaving the party after the announcement of the Model Code of Conduct are opportunistic people and like many others in the past who have left the BJP for selfish reasons, they will be rejected by the people. We are confident that we will form the government in the state like we did in 2017 with absolute majority.”

In his resignation letter, Mukesh Verma, who is from the Nishad community, said no attention was paid to leaders from Dalit, backward and minority communities by the government in the last five years.

In his letter to BJP state chief Swatantra Dev Singh, also marked to BJP national president JP Nadda, Verma wrote: “This is to inform you that in the last five years, no attention has been given to leaders from Dalit, backward and minority communities and they were not given their due respect. Apart from this, the state government has neglected Dalits, backwards, farmers, unemployed youths, and small and mid-level traders. I am resigning from the BJP’s membership because of the state government’s attitude.”

Verma said he would support Swami Prasad Maurya who had earlier resigned from the state cabinet, saying “Maurya is the leader of marginalised and exploited communities”.

Verma joined the BJP in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly polls along with Maurya from the BSP. He had contested the 2012 election on a BSP ticket and had lost the election to SP’s Om Prakash Verma. In 2017, Verma defeated SP’s Sanjay Kumar to become an MLA for the first time.

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning after he resigned, Verma reiterated what he wrote in his letter and said: “They have not done any work in the last five years, and there have been scams everywhere. You can see the teacher recruitment scam… How many backwards should have been given jobs… The BJP is a party for the forward (castes), and not those who come from the backward and exploited communities. Along with me, there will be at least 100 MLAs. Every day, there will be an injection.”

Saini, who represents Nakur, is a four-time MLA. He was elected MLA twice on a BSP ticket from Sarsawa in Saharanpur district.

In his resignation letter to the Governor, Saini wrote that he is resigning from the post of minister because leaders and people who are Dalit, backward, farmers, educated unemployed and small and mid-level traders have been neglected by the BJP government.

Soon after his resignation, Saini met Akhilesh, who tweeted a photograph with the OBC leader, and wrote, “With the coming of another champion of social justice Dr Dharam Singh Saini, we have got more power and excitement for our politics of ‘positive and progressive politics’. He is welcome to the SP with respect and greetings to him. In 2022, the victory of inclusivity and harmony is certain.”

Saini had defeated Congress’s Imran Masood from Nakur in 2017 — Masood who met Akhilesh Wednesday is also set to join the SP.

Speaking to The Indian Express Thursday evening, Awasthi Bala Prasad said: “I have submitted my resignation to the top BJP leadership. I have been a weak and helpless MLA for the last five years and have not been able to work for the poor people I represent. This government has failed on all fronts. I met Akhilesh Yadav ji and have joined him.”

Awasthi, a four-time MLA and Brahmin leader, had joined the BJP from the BSP in 2016 in the run-up to the state polls in 2017. He had won the 2017 elections, defeating Yeshpal Singh Chaudhary of the SP. In 2012, he won on a BSP ticket from Mohammdi constituency in Lakhimpur, defeating SP’s Imran Ahamad.

Apna Dal (S) MLA Amar Singh Chaudhary who resigned and headed to the SP told The Indian Express: “This government has derailed from the promises it had made in its manifesto. There is price rise, corruption and farmers are facing problems. This government has betrayed OBCs on the issue of reservation too.” He said he raised his concerns in meetings with the Apna Dal (S) leadership and top functionaries of the state government but there was no response.

“I have met Akhilesh Yadav today and he has given me his blessings. I will join SP tomorrow. If he gives me a ticket, I will contest the election from Shohratgarh,” he said.

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