A former Union minister, a former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP, and the brother of a Minister in the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday became the latest additions to the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Saleem Shervani, former five-time MP from Budaun who also served as a Union minister during 1996-1998, joined the SP in the presence of the party president Akhilesh Yadav.
Mr. Shervani, who first became an MP in 1984 on a Congress ticket, was sent to Parliament as an SP candidate four times, in 1996,1998, 1999 and 2004, before he shifted his loyalty back to the Congress.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, he contested on a Congress ticket from Budaun, securing over 51,000 votes, but that was enough to spoil the chances of the SP as he cut into the base votes of the SP candidate Dharmendra Yadav, who lost to Sanghamitra of the BJP by less than 20,000 votes.
Along with Mr. Shervani, former BSP MP from Akbarpur in east U.P. Tribhuvan Dutt; Indrapal Singh Pal, brother of BJP minister Ajit Singh Pal; and Chaudhary Naseem Begum, wife of BSP MLA from Hapur Aslam Chaudhary, joined the SP. Former MLA from Hardoi’s Shahbad seat Asif Khan Babbu, Zilla Panchayat Chairperson from Maharajganj Prabhu Dayal Chauhan, and retired Provincial Civil Service (PCS) officer B.K. Saini also joined the SP.
The boost to the SP comes at a time when the State is holding by-polls to seven Assembly seats, which observers say would test the ruling party as well as the Opposition parties in establishing their respective positions in the build-up to the 2022 Assembly elections.
“People of U.P. are ready to remove this government. When the people get an opportunity, you will see how this government is removed,” said Akhilesh Yadav, SP chief.