New Delhi/Lucknow: After Swami Prasad Maurya, another minister in the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government, Dara Singh Chauhan, on Wednesday quit the ministry and tendered his resignation from the BJP amid speculation that of the more than 35 per cent MLAs who will be replaced by the BJP leadership in the coming Assembly polls, at least a dozen are ministers.
While Mr Chauhan, who joined the BJP in 2015, said he will seek the opinion of his well-wishers before joining any other party, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav, in a tweet, welcomed him into the SP.
“Hearty welcome and greetings to Shri Dara Singh Chauhan ji, the relentless fighter of the struggle for social justice. The SP and its allies will unite and take the movement of equality to its height… eliminate discrimination! It is our collective resolve! Respect everyone -- space for everyone,” Mr Yadav tweeted in Hindi. He had welcomed Mr Maurya in a similar manner, though the latter announced that he would join the SP only on January 14.
Amid the news of BJP MLAs quitting the saffron fold, two sitting MLAs, SP’s Hariom Yadav and Congress’ Naresh Saini, joined the BJP on Wednesday at the party headquarters.
At least four more MLAs have quit the BJP since Tuesday in support of Mr Maurya, a prominent OBC leader, who according to rumours in the BJP, was asking ticket for more than two dozen of his supporters.
Mr Maurya had quit the BJP over “gross neglect” by the UP government towards dalits, backwards, farmers, jobless youth and small traders.
In a related development, an MP-MLA court in Sultanpur issued an arrest warrant against Mr Maurya in a seven-year-old case of allegedly making objectionable comments against Hindu gods. The judge, Yogesh Kumar, issued the warrant against him after he did not attend the court hearing on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters in Lucknow after his resignation, Mr Chauhan, who represents Madhuban Assembly constituency in Mau district, said: “Dalits, backwards and the deprived did not get justice in the present government. That’s why I am quitting the Cabinet." He added that he would consult his supporters before taking his future course of action.
The recent developments appear to strengthen the SP’s influence among the non-Yadav OBCs in the state, less than a month before the crucial elections that will also have an impact on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Mr Chauhan said he had worked with dedication over the past five years but dalits, OBCs and the unemployed did not get justice from the BJP government. He also said he had been telling the party high command about the problems all through, but was ignored as he was talking about the backwards and dalits.
Uttar Pradesh deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya urged Mr Chauhan to think again. “It hurts if any member of the family strays. I would only urge the respected gentlemen that it would be their loss only if they board a sinking boat. Elder brother Dara Singh ji, please reconsider your decision,” he tweeted in Hindi.
On Tuesday, he had made a similar appeal to Mr Maurya.
In the resignation letter to state governor Anandiben Patel, Mr Chauhan said: “I have worked with full diligence for the betterment of my departments… But troubled by the complete neglect of backwards, the deprived, dalits, farmers and unemployed youth, besides messing up of the reservation facility for dalits and the backwards, I am tendering my resignation from the Cabinet.”
Besides Mr Maurya and Mr Chauhan, Tindwari MLA Brajesh Prajapati, Tilhar MLA Roshan Lal Varma, Bilhaur MLA Bhagwati Sagar and Bidhuna MLA Vinay Shakya have also tendered their resignation from the BJP.