Just two days ahead of polling, four-time MP from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ashok Pradhan, on Tuesday joined the Samajwadi party, leaving his parent party’s leadership red-faced. He was an MP from Gautam Budh Nagar (earlier Khurja-Noida) seat.
The former MP was annoyed as the BJP had denied him a ticket from Bulandshahr and Hathras constituencies this elections.
Pradhan has been appointed as the SP’s national general secretary. “I have been associated with the BJP for over 40 years, but the situation here has changed now. The party is not allowing anyone to work, so I shifted to the SP. I hope to deliver my best here,” he said.
The party supporters welcomed Pradhan on the DND Flyway in Noida, which lead to a massive jam at the Delhi-Noida border.
He interacted with the party workers and appealed to them to vote for SP candidate, Narendra Bhati, from Gautam Budh Nagar seat. SP leaders said that Pradhan’s shifting would benefit Bhati and affect BJP nominee Dr Mahesh Sharma’s prospects to a large extent.
“Muslims, Gujjars and Yadavs — the core SP supporters — are already with Bhati. Now, with Pradhan joining us, Dalit voters will also flock to us. The BJP will face a severe blow this time,” said Sube Singh Yadav, president of SP’s Noida unit.
Pradhan, the Dalit face of the BJP, became an MP from Khurja-Noida parliamentary constituency, which is now called Gautam Budh Nagar, for the first time in 1996, when this seat was reserved for SC/ST category. He became an MP from the same seat in 1998, 1999, 1999-2000 re-election. He also served as a minister for state in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet.