Former BJP MP Ashok Pradhan joins Samajwadi Party

Constituency watch: Uttar Pradesh

Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh on Tuesday said that it is unfortunate that people like Amit Shah are in politics. Describing Uttar Pradesh as the land of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had “unified the society”, Mr. Singh said in comparison, leaders like Amit Shah were making statements which threatened to drive a wedge between people.

Mr. Shah, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s in charge of Uttar Pradesh, was served a notice by the Election Commission on Monday for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct in the context of some objectionable statements made by him last week.

The Samajwadi Party president attacked Mr. Shah in the presence of former BJP MP, Ashok Pradhan, who along with former BJP MLA from Domariyaganj Prem Prakash Tiwari alias Jippy Tiwari joined the SP on Tuesday. Mr. Pradhan, who has a had a running feud with the BJP vice- president and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Kalyan Singh in Khurja, Bulandshahr and Noida, was equally critical of Mr. Shah’s statement on the dismissal of the U.P. government. It smacked of a dictatorial mentality, he added.

Stating that he himself along with Mr. Pradhan and Mr. Tiwari are fighting the BJP, the Samajwadi Party president said Mr. Shah’s background is well known. “He was the Home Minister when riots occurred in Gujarat,” Mr. Singh told reporters here . Mr. Singh said humanity held no meaning for Mr. Shah (“insaniyat se koi waasta nahin hai”), adding that he will unleash the same ruinous tendencies here (“Amit Shah yahan bhi naash kardenge”).

The Samajwadi Party government is under fire from the Congress for not ordering Mr. Shah’s arrest despite two FIRs being lodged against him. The Congress has cited the example of its candidate from Saharanpur, Imran Masood, who was arrested a few hours after a FIR was lodged against him, but such has not been the case with Mr. Shah. While the SP chief avoided giving a direct response to a query on Mr. Shah not being arrested by stating that much importance should not be given to him, Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan is reported to have said in Rampur that the BJP leader would be arrested at the right time.

Meanwhile Mr. Pradhan’s entry into the SP appears to have come as a shot in the arm for the party, two days before the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in the State on April 10. Gautam Buddha Nagar is among the 10 constituencies of Western U.P. where polling will be held on Thursday.

Taking pot-shots at the present BJP leadership, Mr. Pradhan said the party was divided in different groups with each group vying with each other to control the party.