Former ministers Swami Prasad Maurya, Saini, six MLAs join Samajwadi Party
Swami Prasad Maurya, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav target Yogi Adityanath over 80 per cent vs 20 per cent statement; another former minister Dara Singh Chauhan, two other MLAs conspicuous by their absence at the SP office
Former ministers Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, five other BJP MLAs and one lawmaker of the ruling party’s ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) formally joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Lucknow on Friday after over three days of high-voltage political drama in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
All the eight led by Swami Prasad Maurya are OBC leaders. However, there was no “bombshell”, contrary to the indication given by Swami Prasad Maurya in the days leading up to the joining. Maurya had quit the Uttar Pradesh council of ministers on January 11 and Saini on January 13.
Besides Swami Prasad Maurya and Saini, the others who joined the Samajwadi Party on Friday are BJP MLAs Roshan Lal Verma, Bhagwati Sagar, Brijesh Prajapati, Vinay Shakya, Mukesh Verma and BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) MLA Chaudhary Amar Singh.
At a virtual rally-cum-press conference, both Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Swami Prasad Maurya vowed to have the BJP voted out of power in the assembly election.
Swami Prasad Maurya launched a scathing attack on the BJP while Akhilesh took swipes at chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his government.
Swami Prasad Maurya also claimed that he was the chief minister candidate, along with the BJP’s OBC leader Keshav Prasad Maurya (currently deputy chief minister) in 2017.
“So what was the speculation in 2017 when the BJP won? That Swami Prasad Maurya or Keshav Prasad Maurya will be the chief minister...but what happened eventually? A skylab from Gorakhpur (Yogi Adityanath) was dropped into the CM’s chair. Backwards were ignored even though BJP grabbed power riding on backwards and Dalits,” Swami Prasad Maurya said.
He called the day a “confluence of Samajwaadis (socialists) and Ambedkarvaadis (Ambedkarites) and today we have scripted the beginning of the end of the BJP.
“The BJP top leadership, who were sleeping like Kumbhakaran, are now sleepless because of what we did,” Swami Prasad Maurya said.
Swami Prasad Maurya also said: “The top leadership of the BJP changed three chief ministers in the neighbouring Uttarakhand, but so much crime, atrocities and injustice happened in Uttar Pradesh, they did not do anything.”
Describing himself as a power centre, he said: “I may not have had floated any party, but I am no less than a party. The one to whom I go forms the government. Till I was with Mayawati ji, she had been forming the government again and again, and now she is nowhere. And now the SP will form the government and Akhilesh ji will be the chief minister.”
Swami Prasad Maurya charged the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with digressing from the original Dalit and Bahujan Samaj agenda, the path of BSP founder Kanshiram, and joining hands with moneybags instead.
About the BJP, he said that he thought that after returning to power in the state after 14 years, it may have mended its ways.
“But now, to the BJP, Dalits and backwards are still untouchables, animals,” he remarked.
“The storm, tsunami, that has risen will sink the BJP in the Indian Ocean,” Swami Prasad Maurya said.
Invoking Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, Swami Prasad Maurya said: “Now all of us will use charkha daon (a wrestling move) on BJP and no counter daon by BJP can prevent it from falling flat.”
After Swami Prasad Maurya, Akhilesh spoke and referred to cricket to attack the BJP.
“All those who had been watching the developments over the last few days saw how the BJP wickets were falling one after the other. Our baba mukhya mantri (Yogi Adityanath) doesn’t know cricket. And now he has dropped the catch...BJP is out hit-wicket...The BJP’s annihilation is final,” the SP chief said.
Further attacking the CM, Akhilesh Yadav said: “While one of our leaders had booked an air ticket for baba mukhya mantri to Gorakhpur for March 11, he went to Gorakhpur today itself because of what is happening here.”
Yogi Adityanath was in Gorakhpur on Friday on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and had “khichdi bhoj” at a Dalit party worker’s home there.
Last Saturday (January 8), Samajwadi Party leader IP Singh had booked an air ticket for Yogi Adityanth to Gorakhpur from Lucknow for March 11, the day after the UP polls result on March 10.
Akhilesh said he agreed with Swami Prasad Maurya’s statement whoever Maurya goes with, forms the government in UP.
Both Swami Prasad Maurya and Akhilesh Yadav attacked chief minister Yogi Adityanath over his recent comment that “the fight will be 80% vs 20% in the UP elections”.
Swami Prasad Maurya retorted: “Now, it will not be 80% vs 20%, but 85% vs 15%. Even in the 15%, we will have a share”.
He is understood to have referred to 85% (backwards, Dalits, Muslims, and others) and 15% upper caste Hindus.
When Yogi Adityanath had said at a TV conclave last Saturday that the fight in the UP elections will be “80% vs 20%”, the observers deduced that he had meant 80% Hindus (all castes) and 20% Muslims.
He charged Yogi and BJP with “not considering Dalits and backwards as Hindus”.
“The BJP projected itself as a great hamdard (syphathiser) of Hindus. Are backwards and Dalits not Hindus, Yogiji? Now, the BJP will be back to its 40-50 seats days. I vow that,” he said.
For his part, Akhilesh Yadav said: “This baba mukhya mantri needs to hire a mathematics tutor. He doesn’t know mathematics as he talks about 80% vs 20% or three-fourths. When he says three-fourths, I say that it means only three or four seats (of the total 403 seats in UP assembly) that the BJP will get. Till now we had the support of 80% of the population. After what has happened in the last few days even that remaining 20% is now with us...Now, the bicycle’s handle (leadership) is fine and so are the two wheels. The bicycle will run to victory with Samajwadis and Ambedkarvaadis together”.
Bicycle is the election symbol of the Samajwadi Party.
Commenting on BJP and a few others asking why Swami Prasad Maurya did not quit in the last five years, the former minister said, “Arey bhai, the mandate was for five years, that’s why I quit now, after completing the term.”
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh minister and BJP leader Anil Rajbhar said the mass base of the leaders, who quit the BJP recently, had already dwindled.
“ The leaders who have left the BJP recently had their own base dwindling, while the BJP’s mass base is steadily increasing due to the welfare works of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath. There was also resentment towards the leaders who quit due to their constant absence in their areas. The party had already made a strategy (to deal with the resentment due to these leaders). Even the leaders who quit, knew this,” Rajbhar said in a statement.
On the other hand, fFormer minister Dara Singh Chauhan and two other BJP MLAs, Radha Krishna Sharma and Bala Prasad Awasthi (both Brahmins), who were among the 11 BJP lawmakers to have resigned since January 8, were conspicuous by their absence at Friday’s joining event at the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Chauhan, Sharma and Awasthi did not reach the SP office on Friday.
“They will join with more BJP deserters on January 16 (Sunday),” said a senior SP leader trying to defuse fresh speculation that those who did not join on Friday were rethinking their decision.
Uttar Pradesh saw a total of 12 MLAs, including three Yogi ministers, quitting their parties since the announcement of the poll schedule on January 8. Eleven of them were from the BJP and one from the ally Apna Dal (S). One of these BJP MLAs Avtar Singh Bhadana has already joined the SP ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) on Wednesday. He has been fielded as the RLD’s Jewar candidate. Three other BJP MLAs (Rakesh Rathore, Digvijay Narayan Chaubey and Madhuri Verma) had quit before the announcement of the poll schedule.