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As UP polls draw near, MLAs from Mayawati’s party meet Akhilesh Yadav

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: What could be seen as a possible political shake up in Uttar Pradesh, nine MLAs of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) reportedly met with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav this morning to cross over to the rival camp ahead of state election next year.

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BSP chief Mayawati has expelled these MLAs – Aslam Raini, Aslam Ali Chowdhari, Muztaba Siddiqui, Hakim Lal Bind, Hargobind Bhargav, Sushma Patel, Vandana Singh, Ramvir Upadhyay and Anil Singh – over the last four years.

In the 2017 assembly election, the BSP won 19 seats and lost one in a by-election. Eleven have been expelled since.

Seven rebelled during the Rajya Sabha polls last year and were expelled. That leaves the party with only seven MLAs. But the expelled MLAs have not been disqualified yet.

For now at least, the BSP seems to be disintegrating.

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The most recent expulsions were of the BSP’s senior most leaders – Lalji Verma and Ram Achal Rajbhar – for anti-party activities. These MLAs were among the visible faces of the BSP. Mr Verma was the legislature party leader in the UP assembly and Mr Rajbhar is a former UP BSP chief; he was a minister in all BSP govts in UP . These leaders did not meet with Akhilesh Yadav today. Both were accused of damaging the BSP in recent panchayat elections.

Having BSP MLAs cross over to his side makes for very good optics for Akhilesh Yadav ahead of state elections less than a year away.

The former Chief Minister lost power in a massive BJP sweep in 2017, after which Yogi Adityanath took over the top post. As he heads to another election, Mr Yadav is keen to project his party as the main rival to the ruling BJP.

“People are meeting Akhilesh Yadav ahead of the assembly elections because the Samajwadi Party is a welcoming space unlike the oppressive nature of Mayawati and even the BJP. BSP and BJP MLAs are scared of expressing themselves, that is why they are coming to the SP,” said Samajwadi Party MLA Irfan Solanki.

He added that “every leader, irrespective of party, has a ground base” and the Samajwadi could definitely capitalise on the connect of the BSP’s MLAs.

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In the last two years, especially after the SP-BSP’s alliance flopped miserably in 2019, several BSP leaders have switched to the Samajwadi Party.

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