New Delhi-The exodus from Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet continued on Thursday, with Dharam Singh Saini becoming the third minister in as many days to desert the BJP just weeks before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
Saini, a backward classes leader who was the minister of state (independent charge), Ayush, Food Security and Drug Administration, has joined the Samajwadi Party, according to its president Akhilesh Yadav. In a tweet in Hindi, Yadav said:
“With the arrival of Dr. Dharam Singh Saini ji, another warrior of ‘Social Justice’, our ‘positive and progressive politics’ has got more enthusiasm and strength. Hearty welcome and greetings to him in SP!”
According to India Today, Saini had earlier in the day returned the security cover and residence allotted to him by the state government, setting off speculation that he was going to quit the BJP. He was elected from the Nakur assembly constituency.
Before Saini, ministers Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chouhan resigned from the cabinet and quit as members of the BJP. Both of them accused the BJP government of neglecting marginalised sections of society.
Maurya and Saini were members of the Bahujan Samaj Party before joining the BJP.
Another MLA resigns
On Thursday, another MLA, Mukesh Verma, who represented the Shikohabad assembly constituency, resigned from the primary membership of the BJP accusing the government of lacking respect towards backward classes and Dalits.
“Since the voices of the backward classes, Dalits, unemployed youth, traders of medium and small scale industries and shopkeepers among others are being ignored, I am resigning from the primary membership of the party,” Verma stated in a letter to BJP state president Swatantra Dev Singh.
He said he will continue the ‘fight for justice’ under Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader Swami Prasad Maurya.
With Verma and Saini’s exits, nine legislators have quit the BJP over the past three days, according to India Today.
Maurya, after resigning from the Yogi Adityanath-led cabinet on Tuesday, had alleged “gross neglect” by the BJP towards Dalits, backward classes, farmers, unemployed youth and small traders.
Verma, also an OBC leader, also sent a copy of the letter to the party’s national president J.P. Nadda.
There are speculations that he will also join the SP.
Apart from Saini, Verma, Chouhan and Maurya, the other BJP leaders who have resigned from the party are Avtar Singh Bhadana, Brijesh Kumar Prajapati, Roshan Lal Varma, Bhagwati Sagar and Vinay Shakya are the five other leaders who quit the BJP in the last 36 hours.
Akhilesh Yadav and SP have emerged as the primary challenger to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Apart from poaching influential leaders from the saffron party, the SP has also managed to line up several alliances with regional parties.
The Uttar Pradesh assembly elections will be held in seven phases from February 10 to March 7. The results will be announced on March 10. (Agencies)