New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh’s minister of forest and environment Dara Singh Chauhan quit the Yogi Adityanath cabinet Wednesday and is likely to join the Samajwadi Party (SP).
The move comes as a blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — which had already suffered a jolt Tuesday when labour minister Swami Prasad Maurya quit the UP government and three MLAs followed suit — at a time when the state assembly elections are less than a month away.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav posted a tweet welcoming Chauhan Wednesday.
‘सामाजिक न्याय’ के संघर्ष के अनवरत सेनानी श्री दारा सिंह चौहान जी का सपा में ससम्मान हार्दिक स्वागत एवं अभिनंदन!
सपा व उसके सहयोगी दल एकजुट होकर समता-समानता के आंदोलन को चरम पर ले जाएँगे… भेदभाव मिटाएँगे! ये हमारा समेकित संकल्प है!
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) January 12, 2022
He had posted a similar tweet about Maurya the previous day.
सामाजिक न्याय और समता-समानता की लड़ाई लड़ने वाले लोकप्रिय नेता श्री स्वामी प्रसाद मौर्या जी एवं उनके साथ आने वाले अन्य सभी नेताओं, कार्यकर्ताओं और समर्थकों का सपा में ससम्मान हार्दिक स्वागत एवं अभिनंदन!
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) January 11, 2022
Other Backward Caste (OBC) leaders like Chauhan and Swami Prasad joining the SP are expected to boost Akhilesh Yadav’s efforts to woo non-Yadav OBCs in UP.
“I wholeheartedly worked for the betterment of the department. But I am pained and hurt by the government’s approach and neglect towards backward, down-trodden, Dalits, farmers and unemployed youth along with the neglectful attitude towards reservation for backwards and Dalits. Hence I am resigning,” Chauhan wrote in his resignation letter submitted Wednesday.
Chauhan had joined the BJP in 2015, a month after Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) expelled him for “anti-party activities”.
Three BJP MLAs — Roshan Lal Verma, Brijesh Prajapati, Bhagwati Sagar — had also announced their decision to quit the party Tuesday. A fourth party MLA, Vinay Shakya, had later in the day done the same.
Meanwhile, an arrest warrant was issued Wednesday against Swami Prasad Maurya in connection with an alleged hate speech he made in 2014, a day after he submitted his resignation to the UP government.
‘Many more disgruntled members likely to quit’
With two UP cabinet ministers resigning within 24 hours, senior BJP leader and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya made an appeal, asking Chauhan to reconsider his decision.
“It hurts if any member of the family goes astray. I would only urge the respected members that they will only harm themselves by riding on a sinking boat. Big brother Shri Dara Singh ji, you should reconsider your decision,” he tweeted.
परिवार का कोई सदस्य भटक जाये तो दुख होता है जाने वाले आदरणीय महानुभावों को मैं बस यही आग्रह करूँगा कि डूबती हुई नांव पर सवार होनें से नुकसान उनका ही होगा
बड़े भाई श्री दारा सिंह जी आप अपने फैसले पर पुनर्विचार करिये
— Keshav Prasad Maurya (@kpmaurya1) January 12, 2022
A senior BJP leader told ThePrint on condition of anonymity: “The next few days are crucial for the party as many disgruntled members are likely to quit BJP. The issue was discussed in the meeting held on Tuesday too. Efforts are being made to placate all those who are angry and their concerns are being heard.”
Another leader who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint: “This was expected. Maurya is trying to influence other ministers and MLAs. We have deployed a number of leaders to talk to them. But there are many who are also joining the BJP from the SP.”
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)