In a third successive major blow to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, senior OBC leader Dharam Singh Saini resigned as Minister in the Yogi Adityanath Government accusing it of neglecting both people and elected representatives of the Dalit and OBC communities.
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These communities along with farmers and educated youth had provided the BJP a thumping majority in 2017, said Mr. Saini in his resignation letter to Governor Anandiben Patel.
Soon after Mr. Saini, who held the post of Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ayush, Food Security and Drug Administration, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav hailed him as a “warrior of social justice” and welcomed him to his party. Sharing a picture of himself with Mr. Saini, Mr. Yadav said his addition to the SP would strengthen and provide enthusiasm to his party’s “positive and progressive politics”.
Mr. Saini, an MLA from Saharanpur, follows the path of Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan , both OBC leaders who resigned from the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet over the last two days, accusing the BJP Government of disregarding the OBC and Dalit people and their leaders.
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Also, BJP MLA from Shikohabad in Firozabad Mukesh Verma and Vinay Shakya from Auraiya resigned from the BJP accusing it of neglecting leaders and elected representatives from the Dalit, OBC and minority communities.
Mr. Maurya is the “voice of the oppressed,” said Mr. Verma, a statement echoed by Mr. Shakya. “He is our leader. I am with him,” said Mr. Verma, a day before Mr. Maurya is scheduled to announce his next step amid a strong possibility of either joining the Samajwadi Party or entering into an alliance with it.
In recent weeks, more than a dozen BJP MLAs have joined the SP or its ally RLD in an indication of support for their alliance. These include Dara Singh Chauhan, Radha Krishna Sharma, Swami Prasad Maurya, Dharam Singh Saini, Rakesh Rathore, Bhagwati Sagar, Madhuri Verma, Mukesh Verma, Avtar Singh Badhana, Roshan Lal Verma and Bhagwati Sagar.
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Amid the exodus of the OBC leaders to the SP, the BJP is trying to reclaim the OBC space it has dominated for the past few years. Party State chief Swatantra Dev Singh played up Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has often used his OBC identity to connect with voters, as the guardian of the backward sections.
Mr. Modi keeps the poor, Dalit, deprived and backward sections in his heart, said Mr. Singh, himself an OBC. Mr. Modi embraced, empowered, honoured and considered his own those sections of society whom the Opposition only exploited, he said.
Taking a dig at the BJP MLAs who quit the party in favour of Mr. Yadav, he said those who did not get a ticket in the “double engine train” were given tickets on black by “Tipu Sultan” for his rickety vehicle.
No government has given as much social, economic and political representation to the OBCs as the BJP has, Mr. Singh said. For us ‘P’ means uplift of “Pichda,” for some ‘P’ means “Pita-Putr-Parivar,” he said.
The defection of MLAs from the BJP, in particular the ones from the OBC castes, is bound to provide a boost to the bargaining power of its two allies — Nishad Party and the Apna Dal. The SP has already stitched a formidable caste alliance with half-a-dozen smaller OBC-based parties as it aggressively pushes to expand its base for the upcoming Assembly election.
In the late night development, Apna Dal (Sonelal) MLA from East UP's Siddharthnagar district Amar Singh Chaudhary joined the Samajwadi Party on Thursday. Apna Dal (Sonelal) of Anupriya Patel, is a BJP ally and commands considerable presence among the Kurmi (OBC) caste.