In a setback to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), its six suspended MLAs on Saturday joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the presence of party supremo Akhilesh Yadav.
The BSP MLAs were suspended by party chief Mayawati after they had opposed the party’s official candidate Ramji Gautam for the Rajya Sabha in October 2020.
The six MLAs are Sushma Patel (Mungra Badshahpur, Jaunpur), Aslam Ali (Dholana, Hapur), Hakim Lal Bind (Handia, Prayagraj), Mohammad Mujtaba Siddiqui (Pratappur, Prayagraj), Hargovind Bhargava (Sidhauli, Sitapur), Aslam Raini (Bhinga, Shravasti).
According to Indian Express, they had reportedly met former chief minister Yadav in June this year and hinted at defecting to the SP.
Taking to Twitter, Akhilesh Yadav claimed that the saffron party would not get enough ticket-aspirants “even if it declares 403 chief ministers” as the party was staring at a defeat in the Assembly polls.
The newspaper also reported that two more prominent BSP MLAs Lalji Verma and Ram Achal Rajbhar may soon join SP. They were suspended in June this year for sharing stage with Yadav during the recent panchayat elections.
With the BSP crackdown on rebel lawmakers, the party’s strength in the UP Assembly has dropped to seven MLAs from 19.
BJP MLA joins SP
Rebel BJP MLA from Sitapur Rakesh Rathore too switched to the SP the same day.
“With Rakesh Rathore ji joining us, there is a possibility that the chief minister (Yogi Adityanath) might change his party’s slogan from ‘Mera Pariwar, BJP Pariwar’ to ‘Mera Pariwar, Bhaagta (fleeing) Pariwar’… There is so much anger among the people that the BJP will be cleaned out from the state. Their slogan will change,” Akhilesh said, addressing a press conference at the party’s Lucknow headquarters.
Rathore had criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for asking people to clap, and clang bells and plates during the coronavirus pandemic. The saffron party show-caused him to explain his “anti-party activities”.