UP CM Yogi gets taste of bear effect after 5-year bull run
By VIRENDRA SINGH RAWAT
LUCKNOW, Jan 14 (the CONNECT) -Hit by the dynamo effect of desertion by three Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Ministers and several legislators of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the saffron outfit is still smarting under the sudden political development as the pre-poll fever catches up.
The BJP, which till as late as last week, seemed sailing a safe voyage under Yogi Adityanath’s captaincy ahead of the 2022 UP assembly polls, is looking vulnerable at a time when the party was yet to finalise its first list of candidates.
The fact that the ‘rebels’ representing different castes and sub-castes have joined forces with the principal opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) is only needling the ruling outfit at the prospects of a tougher fight at the hustings than previously anticipated.
The grapevine was that the BJP was contemplating to replace a good stock of sitting ministers and legislators by fielding new faces to beat anti-incumbency factor and punish non-performers. Yet, the high profile exits coupled with the SP positioning the fresh entrants as prized catch is conjuring up a negative public perception for the BJP.
This has the propensity to damage the poll prospects of the ruling party and give out a wrong message to both cadres and supporters at large.
The leaders, who have now quit the BJP, had joined the saffron outfit ahead of the 2017 UP polls after deserting the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). They owed allegiance to Swami Prasad Maurya, who was a trusted lieutenant of BSP president Mayawati and a powerful cabinet minister during her regime.
In 2017, the BJP was successful in sewing up a formidable alliance of non-Jatav dalits, non-Yadav other backward castes (OBCs) and the upper castes. It worked magic and the party won 312 constituencies, while its allies Apna Dal (Sone Lal) and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) won 9 and 4 seats respectively.
This took up the tally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to 325 in the 403 seat UP legislative assembly, enabling the party to form the government headed by monk-turned politician Yogi Adityanath.
The other major opposition parties viz. SP, BSP and Congress could win only 47, 19 and 7 seats respectively then.
Later, SBSP chief O P Rajbhar quit the state cabinet and withdrew support to the Yogi government alleging non-fulfilment of the promises and neglect of his community. The caste equation created by the BJP, however, never felt simmering to the point of a meltdown. The unthinkable happened for the party after Maurya and Co started quitting back-to-back, making a beeline at the SP office for membership and probably the party tickets for the elections.
Meanwhile, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on Friday announced that the freshly minted coalition of the socialist and Ambedkarites would uproot the BJP government. Ambedkarites refers to the followers of Bhimrao Ambedkar, a Dalit pantheon and champion of the downtrodden.
Addressing a gathering after inducting rebel BJP legislators and former cabinet ministers, including Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini in the SP fold, Yadav exuded confidence that SP would win 400 seats in the UP polls.
He asserted people were eager to dislodge the BJP regime. “Now that the Samajwadi and Ambedkarites have joined hands, the BJP would bite the dust in the polls.”
Five BJP legislators viz. Roshan Lal Verma, Brijesh Prajapti, Mukesh Verma, Vinay Shakya and Bhagwati Sagar, apart from Chaudhary Amar Singh of the Apna Dal (Sonelal) also joined the SP.
“Today marks the beginning of the end of the BJP. Whichever party I have deserted has always gone into oblivion like the BSP. We will work under the leadership of Shri Akhilesh Yadav to remove the BJP government and decimate the party,” Maurya said in his speech.
Another former UP cabinet minister Dara Singh Chauhan, who had also quit the BJP, is expected to formally join the SP in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the filing of nominations for the first phase of UP elections for 58 seats in 11 districts started today. These districts are Shamli, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Hapur, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Mathura, Agra, and Aligarh. Out of 58 seats, nine seats are reserved for the scheduled castes (SC).
The last date for filing nominations is January 21 and scrutiny of nomination papers will be held on January 24, while names can be withdrawn till January 27.
The UP elections will be held in seven phases starting February viz. Feb 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.