A senior Samajwadi Party leader switched sides to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday, prompting a delighted Mayawati to remark that she could even consider letting the chief minister’s beleaguered uncle to join her outfit if he wished to.
Ambika Chaudhary, a confidant of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, moved over to the rival camp after his name didn’t feature on the ruling party’s first list of candidates for the February-March assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
He cited the family feud in the SP for his decision.
“I condemn the misconduct of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav with his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav. The CM has virtually captured the party, sidelining senior leaders,” he said.
The Samajwadi first family is locked in a bitter power tussle with Mulayam and his brother, Shivpal Singh Yadav, on the one side and the 43-year-old Akhilesh on the other.
BSP supremo and four-time chief minister Mayawati mocked at the SP’s internal strife, saying Shivpal is welcome to join her party if he makes such an offer.
Also, she said Mulayam made brother Shivpal a sacrificial goat.
Shivpal was calling the shots, with Mulayam’s backing, as the party’s state unit chief. But he was sidelined after his nephew turned the tables, though Akhilesh retained him on the party’s poll list declared on Friday.
Chaudhary, who was in the Mulayam-Shivpal camp, wasn’t considered.
“The family feud started on September 13 not to check communal forces, but to serve the interests of a few people,” he said.
He lost the 2012 assembly election from Fefana in Ballia district, a constituency from which Mayawati will field him as a BSP candidate this time. The BSP chief said Chaudhary will get an important position in her party.
After his 2012 loss, the SP made him a member of the legislative council (MLC) and was inducted in the Akhilesh cabinet. But he was divested of his portfolio in 2015 and sidelined in the party organisation.
Chaudhary walked in and announced he was joining the BSP when Mayawati was concluding a press conference on Saturday. He was provided a chair by the BSP chief’s side.
“To stop communal forces from grabbing power, I decided to join the BSP. More SP leaders are likely to join the BSP,” he said.
At least 21 legislators didn’t figure on the SP list, provoking Chaudhary and two more seniors to switch sides the day after.
Chaudhary’s remarks were in line with Mayawati’s jibes against the SP during her media briefing.
She described the SP as a sinking ship and advised the Congress leadership not to contest the Uttar Pradesh assembly election in alliance with the “communal” Mulayam-Akhilesh party.
“Akhilesh Yadav has protected BJP leaders accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots. The people are waiting for the polls to get rid of the SP government. The Congress will also face the people’s anger if it allies with the SP,” she said.
Her suggestion reflected fears that a Congress-SP coalition might divide Muslim votes.