New Delhi: Ahead of the Assembly elections, the Uttar Pradesh poll cauldron is on the boil, with some key faces in the state’s politics switching sides.
In the first such big jolt to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanatha, a cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya quit the party on Tuesday and joined the Samajwadi Party (SP).
The news was announced by SP leader and former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in a tweet, which also indicated that Maurya may bring over with him a few more MLAs and leaders from BJP.
Soon after Maurya quit BJP, another MLA, Roshan Lal Verma, also announced his resignation, as per reports.
"Despite a divergent ideology, I worked with dedication in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet. But because of the grave oppression of Dalits, OBCs, farmers, unemployed and small businessmen, I am resigning," Swami Prasad Maurya wrote in a stinging resignation letter, according to a report in NDTV.
Maurya, a strong OBC (Other Backward Classes) leader, who was labour minister in the Yogi cabinet, had joined the BJP from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 2016, ahead of the last Assembly polls in 2017.
Welcoming Maurya into SP’s fold, Akhilesh Yadav tweeted: “Social justice will see a new revolution – (20)22 will see a change.”
In another big catch for SP, Congress leader and party strongman in the Saharanpur belt, Imran Masood has also joined the SP. The district has around 42% Muslim population.
Considered close to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, Masood was quoted as saying that the reason he left Congress, was because he felt that this time SP was better placed to defeat BJP in the elections.
"Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have given me respect but in the current political scenario, the party does not have any vote share in Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh ji can bring development to the state," Masood said.
Masood had lost in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections from the Saharanpur seat, bagging four lakh and two lakh votes, respectively, said a report in The Hindu.
In 2017, though he lost the Nakur Assembly seat by only 4,000 votes, he ensures Congress got two seats in the district, “the party’s only success stories in western UP,” said the report.
BSP chief Mayawati will not contest UP polls
Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati will not contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, party general secretary S C Misra said in Lucknow on Tuesday.
Misra said he will also not contest the state elections, which will be held in seven phases starting February 10.
Since elections are being held in several states, including Punjab and Uttarakhand, along with Uttar Pradesh, the BSP president will not contest the polls and help party candidates win, Misra said.
Currently, Mayawati is neither a legislator nor an MP. Misra is a Rajya Sabha member.
The BSP will contest all 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh alone.