Controversial Uttar Pradesh minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya is in touch with senior BJP leaders to explore possibilities of joining hands with the party ahead of the assembly polls in the state next year, HT has learnt.
Sources said the move hinted at Singh’s souring relationship with the ruling Samajwadi Party whom he supported in the 2012 election and got rewarded with a ministerial position despite being an independent MLA.
“He is hurt with the treatment meted out to him by Samajwadi Party and is planning to join hands with the BJP. The two sides have been discussing this for the last a couple of weeks,” a source privy to the matter told HT, claiming a formal announcement could be expected soon.
Uttar Pradesh goes to assembly poll early next year.
The five-term legislator had to resign as minister in March, 2013 for his alleged role in the murder of Muslim DSP in his area. His ministerial position was restored in October that year following a clean chit from agencies investigating the murder.
But, Akhilesh clipped his wings in a reshuffle last November, divesting Singh of food and civil supplies department in return of low profile department like stamp and registration, court fee and civil defence.
Given the long list of criminal cases he faces, the BJP has its bit of worries about embracing Singh. Lawlessness in Uttar Pradesh would be BJP’s poll plank and a section of the party fears that doing business with Raja Bhaiya overtly could be counterproductive.
Still, the prospect of netting a prominent Thakur face having considerable following among the community leaders in eastern and parts of central Uttar Pradesh is tempting the BJP to negotiate with him.
Singh’s political course has a direct bearing on the electoral outcome of about two dozen assembly constituencies in these pockets of the country’s most populous state.
As someone who always contested assembly election as an independent candidate, Singh’s relationship with the BJP dates back to 1997 when he was inducted as a minister in the BJP government led by Kalyan Singh. He also held ministerial portfolios in subsequent BJP governments under Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh.