Lucknow: For a party-hopper, MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, in jail since last year on charges of raping a girl in Unnao, appears to wield quite a clout in the Bharatiya Janata Party. The party’s refusal to take action against him, despite widespread outrage over the rape case, has raised questions in Lucknow’s political circles, with opposition parties attributing the inaction to the “Thakur lobby” in the BJP.
A prominent Thakur leader, Sengar, 52, is referred to as a ‘bahubali’ by his supporters in his constituency, Bangarmau in Unnao. He is believed to have the support of the ‘Thakur lobby’ in the BJP and, sources said, the party had considered his caste before inducting him.
According to BJP sources, Sengar also has the backing of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
In June, BJP’s Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj had even visited Sengar in Sitapur jail, where he is currently lodged.
After the rape case hit the headlines in 2018, BJP leaders had maintained that action was being contemplated against him, but the party didn’t do anything. Sengar was arrested by the CBI in April 2018 and has been in jail since then.
Sengar was in the news again Sunday after the rape victim, who is now 19 years old met with an accident Sunday. She is now on life support. An FIR was filed against Sengar for murder Monday after the victim’s family alleged his hand in the accident.
“There is a lot of casteism in the BJP and (rape) accused Kuldeep Singh Sengar has the support of the ‘Thakur lobby’,” said Samajwadi Party (SP) MLC Sunil Singh.
Defending the BJP, state party spokesperson Harish Srivastava said the investigation into the rape case is ongoing. “If he (Sengar) is proven guilty, the party will take strict action, definitely,” he said.
Known for switching sides
Sengar is a known party-hopper — he has joined the BJP after experimenting with the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the SP.
He has been elected MLA four times from four different assembly segments in Unnao.
Sengar, who has studied only until Class XII, began his political journey with the Congress in 1995. In 2002, he joined the BSP during that year’s Assembly elections and won from Unnao Sadar seat.
He soon came to be known as the ‘bahubali’, but just before the 2007 state elections, BSP supremo Mayawati expelled him from the party on disciplinary grounds.
Sengar was close to Shipal Yadav’s faction in SP
Unperturbed by his expulsion, Sengar joined the SP and won from Bangermau in 2007 and Bhagwant Nagar in 2012 state elections. He then came to be considered as one of the prominent SP leaders, having won two consecutive times.
Later on, he became close to the Shivpal Yadav faction in SP. In 2017, he left the SP amid increasing tussle between Shivpal’s and Akhilesh Yadav’s factions, and joined the BJP. That year, he won from Bangarmau.
BJP sources said Sengar had plans to contest 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But, his ambitions couldn’t be realised after his name cropped up in the rape case.
Sengar’s family has also been active in politics. His wife, Sangeeta, was the president of Zilla Panchayat, while his brother, Manoj, was a block pramukh.
According to the website myneta.info, Sengar’s property grew considerably from 2007 to 2017. In 2007, his property was worth Rs 36, 23,144. In 2012, it grew up to Rs 1,27, 26,000 and in 2017, it was worth Rs 2,90,44,307.