Lucknow: The turmoil in the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) snowballed into a bigger crisis on Wednesday, with one more cabinet minister in the government headed by Yogi Adityanath resigning in the evening, alleging that the state government was discriminatory toward dalits, other backward classes (OBCs) and farmers.
Dara Singh Chauhan, who served as Minister for Forest and Environment in the Yogi government resigned from his post a day after another key minister, Swami Prasad Maurya, an influential OBC leader, quit the cabinet on Tuesday and is slated to join Samajwadi Party (SP). Maurya, too, accused the Yogi government of neglecting traders, backwards and youth.
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"I worked with dedication but I am resigning as I am hurt by this government's oppressive attitude toward the backward, deprived sections, Dalits, farmers and unemployed youth and the neglect of quota for the backward and Dalits," Chauhan wrote in his resignation letter addressed to Governor Anandiben Patel.
Talking to reporters later, Chauhan said: “BJP formed the government with the support of dalits and backward communities, but did not serve them well, which is why I resigned.”
Notably, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, as in the case of Maurya, in a tweet, welcomed Dara Singh Chauhan to the party. However, Chauhan said he is yet to take a call on his future course of action.
Maurya and Chauhan’s exit took place while a high-level meeting of BJP was underway in Delhi to finalise candidates for 58 seats in Western UP (that go to polls in the first phase on February 10). Chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma were in the national capital.
Meanwhile, two ministers and four MLAs have quit so far in the span of 24 hours.
The rapidly unfolding events in Uttar Pradesh are likely to have wide ramifications for the ruling BJP with party insiders fearing a groundswell of dissension in the state following the "unsavoury" exit of two tall OBC leaders from the Yogi cabinet.
Political observers see the spate of resignations as a huge dent to BJP and a move toward consolidation of OBC votes, which will be a key factor in the outcome of the Assembly polls.
Former senior editor of The Times of India and political commentator, Atul Chandra, said: “This is a major setback for BJP ahead of the Assembly elections. These leaders are upset with Yogi Adityanath as he gives priority to upper castes and both Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan have alleged the neglect of the backward classes and dalits by the government”. He added that “this sentiment within BJP has been brewing for long time but no leader could speak up. “
Chandra told NewsClick that even deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has accused the government of step-motherly treatment for these communities. “Though he doesn’t speak at any public forum on this but he has raised the issues multiple times.”
Drawing similarities in the situation with West Bengal, the senior journalist said: “These back-to-back resignations are quite similar to the West Bengal elections. Several top leaders, ministers left TMC (Trinamool Congress) to join BJP but what was the result? TMC not only retained power but came back with full majority. Therefore, it would be too early to draw any conclusion, as both these leaders have not resigned from the party.”
Chandra, however, pointed out that there would be a “setback for BJP and if Akhilesh manages to draw Maurya and Chauhan into the party. He can take advantage of the Muslim-OBC combination in the elections which will definitely help his party.”