UP former minister Dara Singh Chauhan, Apna Dal MLA join SP
Former Uttar Pradesh minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Dara Singh Chauhan on Sunday joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) days after resigning from the Yogi Adityanath cabinet and ahead of the crucial state assembly elections.
Chauhan, the legislator from Madhuban assembly constituency, joined the Akhilesh Yadav-led party along with Apna Dal (Sonelal)’s RK Verma, who represents Vishvanathganj constituency in Pratapgarh district in the state legislative assembly.
Welcoming the two leaders in the party at an event in Lucknow, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said, “I congratulate both of you for having joined the fight to defeat and oust the BJP. Let us fight in a manner that BJP candidates’ poll deposits are forfeited.”
Taking a dig at the BJP, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said, “There is a saying in English: “strike the iron when it is hot”. So, we decided to welcome these leaders into the party at the right time. The BJP does not understand English sayings (proverbs). If they did, they would go into a depression,” Yadav said.
Chauhan is the third former minister after Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini to join the SP from BJP. On Friday, Maurya, Saini, five BJP legislators and MLA Chaudhary Amar Singh from the Apna Dal (Sonelal), an ally of the BJP, had crossed over to the SP.
All these leaders have resigned from the BJP in quick succession in the past few days. Uttar Pradesh goes to assembly polls in seven phases between February 10 and March 7.
While joining the SP, Chauhan vowed to make Akhilesh Yadav chief minister of Uttar Pradesh again. “When the BJP formed government in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, it gave the slogan ‘sabka saath, sabka vikaas’... But, ‘vikaas’ (development) of a handful of people was done and the rest were left to their fate. We will change the politics of Uttar Pradesh and make Akhilesh Yadav the chief minister once again,” Chauhan said.
“People belonging to the OBC and Dalit communities will come together. Our rivals may try their level best but will not be able to stop this storm. A change is inevitable,” he added.
The SP chief also took a jibe at the BJP’s decision to field chief minister Adityamath from Gorakhpur Urban seat. “People of the double-engine government (BJP at the Centre and state) are dismantling each other’s wheels. The Delhi camp has shunted the mukhya mantri (chief minister) to Gorakhpur already,” he said. Several BJP leaders have credited the ”double engine” government for fast-tracking the state’s development”. Yadav has countered this statement on multiple occasions, saying ‘the double engine are clashing (the double engine takara rahey hain)”.
Reacting to Chauhan and others switching sides to the SP, state BJP chief Swatantra Dev Sing said those who “are not getting tickets to ride the ‘double engine’ are getting the tickets in ‘black’ to ride the rickety vehicle of Akhilesh Yadav”.
Meanwhile, the SP chief promised to conduct a caste-based census and deliver social justice based on their share of population in the state if his party is voted to power. The announcement came soon after Chauhan, who resigned as the forest minister in the Adityanath cabinet on Wednesday, raised the issue.
“This government is counting trees, counting animals but why is it not counting backwards in the population? I want the caste census to be done so that the backwards get benefits as per their share in the population, Chauhan said, adding, “Jiski jitni sankya bhaari, utni uski bhagidaari (those who are higher in numbers get benefits as per their population).”
Taking a jibe at Adityanath for having lunch at a Dalit’s house in Gorakhpur on Makar Sankranti, Yadav said it was only meant for votes. “You all must have seen he ate ‘khichdi’ with so much disinterest… The backwards and Dalits have understood that the BJP is trying to finish the reservation in a phased manner by privatising everything.”
The SP chief also said that he will request the Election Commission of India (ECI) to remove all officers who worked with former top cop Asim Arun for the last five years. A former IPS officer, Arun joined the BJP earlier in the day.
“We will ask the Election Commission that in the last five years, all the officers who worked with Asim Arun be removed or else they will influence the elections,” Yadav said.
He added that if these people are not removed from their posts, they will continue to work as BJP workers under the guise of officers. Yadav also said that Arun’s induction into the saffron party serves as an example for the commission. “There is an example now before the EC on how much of a connection an officer can have with a party. He (Arun) was a member of the BJP, both must have had talks, decided on giving a ticket [to him] too and yet he was made the commissioner,” the SP chief noted.