Lucknow: Infuriated over his sacking, controversial Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Minister Om Prakash Rajbhar on Monday alleged that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath succumbed to the powerful liquor lobby and did not implement prohibition in the state.
Adityanath's silence on a liquor ban was the trigger point in the ongoing tussle between Rajbhar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said.
Earlier in the day, Rajbhar, who had been making statements against the ruling BJP and its leadership, was dismissed from the Adityanath cabinet by the Governor Ram Naik. Five other leaders of the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), who were holding ministerial ranks in commissions, were also removed with immediate effect on Monday.
The estranged BJP ally and SBSP chief had even on the final day of polling on Sunday said that the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance was poised for a big win in Purvanchal (eastern Uttar Pradesh), just days after he claimed to have walked out of the Adityanath government.
Rajbhar also claimed that he and his son Arun Rajbhar, Chairman of the Small Scale Industries Corporation, had handed over their resignations on April 13. However, the BJP, apprehending split in the crucial votes of the Rajbhar community, kept sitting on the resignation letters and sacked the two from their posts on Monday -- once the polls were over in the state.
Talking to IANS, Rajbhar's son and national General Secretary of SBSP, Arun Rajabhar, said: "Before the polls, we had moved a cabinet proposal to ban liquor in the entire state. We had emphasised that local made liquor is not only killing people but causing havoc in poor families. Like Gujarat and Bihar, the BJP should ban liquor in UP also. However, the liquor lobby stalled the move."
Arun Rajbhar, who controls the reins of the party which now has four MLAs, said that besides the liquor ban, his party also demanded quota within the OBC (Other Backward Class) reservation for their community.
"BJP President Amit Shah promised us that he will ensure that a quota within the quota is implemented for the benefit of the Rajbhar community. Yet the orders were never implemented," he added.
He also alleged that the BJP leadership intended that his party should be merged with them and it fight future elections on the lotus symbol.
Insiders in BJP said that Om Prakash Rajbhar and his son had sought bigger portfolios in the government. They also pressured the party to have a bigger share in seat-sharing.
What annoyed the BJP leadership was the fact that during Lok Sabha polls, Rajbhar held separate rallies in different constituencies and spoke against the saffron party. In his recent rallies, Rajbhar even used foul language against the BJP, they said.
Rajbhar was said to be miffed over denial of seats of his choice in the state, and had fielded 39 candidates in eastern Uttar Pradesh, including in Varanasi from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought re-election.
The Rajbhar community leader, who has considerable clout in eastern Uttar Pradesh, had already asserted that his party had not campaigned for the BJP in the just concluded elections.