Dharam Singh Saini, an OBC leader and BJP MLA from Nakur; and Mukesh Verma, the MLA from Shikohabad constituency of Uttar Pradesh, have quit the BJP and are likely to join Samajwadi Party (SP) ahead of the Assembly polls in 2022.
With this, a total of 9 UP MLAs including three ministers have left the BJP. Dhauraha MLA Bala Prasad Awasthi is also expected to resign from the BJP today, taking the tally to 10 legislators quitting the party. Five-time MLA Bala Prasad Awasthi might meet SP leader Akhilesh Yadav today and formallly join the party.
With less than a month to go for the country’s most populated state going to polls, the mass exodus from BJP has apparently sent alarm bells off across the party.
Here is a list of the 9 MLAs who have resigned from the BJP till now:
1. Swami Prasad Maurya: A prominent non-Yadav OBC leader in the BJP. He was MLA from the Padrauna constituency and the Minister of Labour and Employment in the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet. Maurya joined the BJP from BSP in 2017, ahead of the last UP polls. He is a five-time MLA from the Padrauna seat.
His daughter, Sanghmitra Maurya, is a BJP MP from Badaun in UP.
सामाजिक न्याय और समता-समानता की लड़ाई लड़ने वाले लोकप्रिय नेता श्री स्वामी प्रसाद मौर्या जी एवं उनके साथ आने वाले अन्य सभी नेताओं, कार्यकर्ताओं और समर्थकों का सपा में ससम्मान हार्दिक स्वागत एवं अभिनंदन! सामाजिक न्याय का इंक़लाब होगा ~ बाइस में बदलाव होगा#बाइसमेंबाइसिकल pic.twitter.com/BPvSK3GEDQ— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) January 11, 2022
2. Dara Singh Chauhan: Former Minister of Forest, Environment and Animal Husbandry and MLA from Madhuban, Mau seat. Chauhan had joined the BJP in 2015, and he pulled off a massive OBC rally, attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Chauhan was given a ticket from the Madhuban seat in the 2017 UP Assembly elections, which he won with a comfortable margin.
‘सामाजिक न्याय’ के संघर्ष के अनवरत सेनानी श्री दारा सिंह चौहान जी का सपा में ससम्मान हार्दिक स्वागत एवं अभिनंदन! सपा व उसके सहयोगी दल एकजुट होकर समता-समानता के आंदोलन को चरम पर ले जाएँगे… भेदभाव मिटाएँगे! ये हमारा समेकित संकल्प है! सबको सम्मान ~ सबको स्थान!#मेला_होबे pic.twitter.com/rGxMYUyvsd— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) January 12, 2022
3. Dharam Singh Saini: Former Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ayush, Food Security and Drug Administration. He is the third important minister from the BJP Cabinet to quit the party to join SP. He told Aaj Tak that one BJP minister and MLA will resign 'each day' till January 20.
‘सामाजिक न्याय’ के एक और योद्धा डॉ. धर्म सिंह सैनी जी के आने से, सबका मेल-मिलाप-मिलन करानेवाली हमारी ‘सकारात्मक और प्रगतिशील राजनीति’ को और भी उत्साह व बल मिला है। सपा में उनका ससम्मान हार्दिक स्वागत एवं अभिनंदन! बाइस में समावेशी-सौहार्द की जीत निश्चित है! #मेला_होबे pic.twitter.com/2FDkLLNW93— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) January 13, 2022
4. Bhagwati Prasad Sagar: BJP MLA from Bilhaur seat, Kanpur Nagar district. He is a former Minister of State (Independent) in the Department of Labour Affairs in the UP government. He left the party with OBC leader Swami Prasad Maurya on January 11, 2022.
5. Brajesh Prajapati: MLA from the Tindwari constituency of Banda district, UP. The BJP MLA quit the party with Swami Prasad Maurya.
6. Roshan Lal Verma: BJP MLA from the Tilhar constituency in Shahjahanpur. He resigned from the party along with Swami Prasad Maurya and is touted to join SP.
7. Vinay Shakya: MLA from the Bidhuna constituency of UP. He was reportedly missing since Tuesday, after Swami Prasad Maurya quit the party. Reports later emerged that he might also join SP along with Maurya.
8. Mukesh Verma: another OBC leader and MLA from the Shikohabad constituency. He left BJP on January 13, 2022 to join SP. He even claimed to India Today that there are 100 other MLAs who are in the queue to quit the party.
9. Avtar Singh: a prominent Gurjar leader, Avtar Singh was a BJP MLA from Meerapur constituency in Muzaffarnagar. He left the party on January 12 to join Jayant Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
WHEN DID THE EXODUS START?
It all started on Tuesday, January 11, when the BJP high command was having a meeting in Delhi to discuss seat distribution in the upcoming UP Assembly elections. In the afternoon, pictures of UP Labour Minister Swami Prasad Maurya, with former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, surfaced on social media.
The Labour Minister resigned from his post and hours later, handed his resignation letter over to governor Anandiben Patel. Along with him, three other BJP MLAs - Bhagwati Sagar, Brajesh Prajapati, Roshan Lal Verma - resigned from the BJP. All the leaders who have resigned have cited the neglect of dalits, farmers, the poor and youth of the state by the BJP government in the last five years.
THE RELEVANCE OF NON-YADAV OBC VOTE
The exodus of three prominent OBC leaders Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini will severely affect BJP’s prospects in the upcoming elections. In 2017, the entry of these non-Yadav OBC heavyweights played a crucial role in BJP’s victory. The three have heavy clout among the non-Yadav OBC castes, which might now fetch votes for the SP.
THE ANGST OF FARMERS
Apart from dealing with the desertion of its ministers, Yogi Adityanath-led BJP in UP might face considerable stiffness from the farmers, especially in the Jat-dominated Western UP. To make it worse, BJP MLA Avtar Singh left the party to join Jayant Singh’s RLD, which has tied up with SP ahead of the upcoming polls.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the repeal of the three contentious farm laws last year, the farmer community still seems disappointed with the BJP.
SP SUPREMO PLAYING HIS CARDS
Former Chief Minister and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav. Photo: PTI
The recent turn of events in UP in the last three days have surely unseated the BJP top brass in Delhi. Akhilesh Yadav is collating support for his party by including the smaller parties and support from non-Yadav backward groups, which is exactly what the BJP did in 2017, when Akhilesh Yadav was the Chief Minister. Yadav is now playing the same game that the BJP defeated him at, back in 2017; but this be enough to sweep UP 2022? March 10 will tell.