Lucknow: The Congress got a jolt in western Uttar Pradesh as its only renowned Jat faces in the region, the father-son duo of Harendra Malik and Pankaj Malik, resigned from the party Wednesday.
Harendra Malik is a former Rajya Sabha MP and Pankaj is a two-term MLA. Both are likely to join the Samajwadi Party (SP) soon.
“We have left the party due to some inevitable reasons. We have done so much for the party but were not getting similar rewards,” Pankaj told ThePrint.
“We have no complaints with the high command but it’s the right time to move on. We have taken the decision considering the narrative in our constituency. Most probably we will join the Samajwadi Party but a final date for joining has not been decided yet.”
Pankaj also hinted at his workers being ignored by the local leadership. “I can’t bear disrespect after being so much committed to the party from more than 17 years in politics,” he said.
A UP Congress functionary told ThePrint that with the duo resigning, the party has lost its last prominent Jat leaders in the region.
“The Malik family was known as our only known Jat faces here. Earlier, the former MP Choudhary Bijendra Singh and a few other Jat leaders also left the party,” the functionary said. “Now the party should focus on developing a new Jat leadership at the local level but the Maliks’ exit is a big loss.”
The functionary added that Pankaj had also been the state unit’s vice president, while his father Harendra Malik had been a member of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s advisory committee.
A source close to the Malik family told ThePrint that Pankaj wants to contest the assembly elections, while Harendra is eyeing a Lok Sabha ticket.
The source added that if the Yadav and Muslim combination is added to the Jat vote-bank, together they will make up over 40 per cent of the votes in the Muzzafarnagar-Shamli belt, where the duo are planning to contest.
The source further said that both father and son were waiting for a final call on a Congress-SP or Congress-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance but now with the Congress set to contest alone, they don’t want to lose another election.
SP’s focus on non-Yadavs
The Maliks’ possible move to the Samajwadi Party comes at a time that the party is focussing on inducting prominent non-Yadav faces.
On Tuesday, the SP reconstituted its state executive committee of 72 members. A SP functionary said that in a shift from its traditional Yadav-Muslim domination, 40 per cent members of the new committee are non-Yadav OBCs (other backward classes) with a good representation of Brahmins and Dalits.
“The 72-member committee has over 40 per cent OBCs, 10 Brahmins, 11 Muslims, more than six Dalits. There is a balanced representation of all the regions of the state. The committee has only seven Yadavs,” the functionary said.
“The non-Yadav OBCs in the committee include members from the Nishad, Kashyap, Kurmi, Bind, Pal, Maurya, Kushwaha, Prajapati, Saini, Sahu, and Gurjar communities.”
The SP functionary added that the party is planning to appoint more prominent faces from different castes to official positions. “There are only four Yadavs among 24 secretaries in the new executive team. This shows our focus,” he said. “If the Malik family joins, it would be a win-win situation for them and for us too.”
A second source in the SP said another prominent western UP Congress leader, Imran Masood, is in touch with the SP high command.
Although Masood has denied suggestions of leaving the Congress, he has batted for an alliance with the SP for the assembly elections.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)