Turncoats spice up poll contest in Uttar Pradesh

Polling will be held in seven phases in Uttar Pradesh and the results will be declared on March 10.

By Arunav Sinha

Lucknow: Switching sides has always been a part of the poll scenario and this time is no different with almost all parties in Uttar Pradesh from the major ones like the BJP and Congress to smaller outfits like Apna Dal (Sonelal) seeing some legislators bidding them goodbye and some others joining them.

The maximum gains from this flight of legislators have been to the BJP followed by the Samajwadi Party, while the losers are the BSP and the Congress.

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UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said about 15 legislators of various parties have embraced the lotus in the recent past.

“This includes Congress MLAs Aditi Singh, Rakesh Singh (both from Rae Bareli), and Naresh Saini (from Saharanpur). BSP MLAs Vandana Singh (from Sagri in Azamgarh), Ramveer Upadhyay (from Sadabad in Hathras) and Anil Singh (from Purwa in Unnao) have also joined the BJP,” Tripathi said.

Two SP MLAs, Subhash Pasi (Saidpur in Ghazipur district) and Hari Om Yadav (Sirsaganj in Firozabad) have joined the BJP. Hariom Yadav is a distant relative of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, and had quit the SP recently.

The SP members of the Legislative Council, who have joined the BJP are Narendra Singh Bhati, Shatrudra Prakash, Rama Niranjan, Pappu Singh, CP Chandra, Ghanshyam Lodhi, and Shailendra Pratap Singh.

The SP is also a favorite destination of MLAs of other parties.

It received a big boost when three ministers — Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan, and Dharam Singh Saini — of the Yogi Adityanath cabinet tendered resignation and joined it ahead of the crucial assembly elections.

A number of BJP MLAs also joined hands with Akhilesh Yadav. They are Brijesh Prajapati (Tindwari in Banda), Roshanlal Verma (Tilhar in Shahjahanpur), Bhagwati Prasad Sagar (Bilhaur in Kanpur Nagar), Vinay Shakya (Bidhuna in Auraiya), Digvijay Narayan alias Jai Chaube (Khalilabad) Madhuri Verma (Nanpara in Bahraich) and Rakesh Rathore (Sitapur).

Amar Singh Chaudhary, Apna Dal (Sonelal) MLA from Shohratgarh in Siddharthanagar came to SP.

Sitting BJP MLA from Agra’s Fatehabad constituency Jitendra Verma too resigned from the party’s primary membership, and said that he has joined the SP, as his name did not figure in the list of candidates released by the BJP for the first phase of elections.

BSP MLA legislator Vinay Shankar Tiwari from Chillupar assembly seat in Gorakhpur, who was expelled from the BSP, also joined the SP.

Tiwari claimed in the 2017 Assembly elections, the BSP had 19 MLAs, but now they are left with only three.

“Rest of the MLAs have either left the party or have been shown the door,” he said.

The Congress, which had seven MLAs in the UP Legislative Assembly, is now left with three MLAs. Four of its MLAs have quit, and joined other parties.

Those who have switched sides are Naresh Saini (Congress to BJP); Masood Akhtar (Congress to SP); Rakesh Singh (Congress to BJP) and Aditi Singh (Congress to BJP).

BJP MLA from Bairia in Ballia district Surendra Singh is the latest to quit.

Denied a ticket, he is now in poll fray from Bihar-centric Vikasheel Insan Party (VIP).

There are other politicians who changed their political affiliation after getting a ticket from the party.

Prominent among them are Haidar Ali Khan, who was declared Congress candidate from Swar in Rampur, but joined the Apna Dal (Sonelal), Supriya Aron of Bareilly Cantt (from Congress to SP), Manish Jaiswal of Padrauna in Kushinagar (from Congress to BJP), Savita Pandey of Tarabganj in Gonda (from Congress to BJP) and Rachna Kori of Jagdishpur in Amethi (the SP candidate who joined the BJP after filing her nomination papers).

Talking about the party hoppers, Sanjay Kumar, Professor and Co-Director of Lokniti, a Research Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, told PTI, “There are many reasons. First and foremost is that if a leader starts feeling suffocated in the party and thinks he doesn’t have a political future in that party, he would like to shift to another party.

“It is not because of affiliation or liking the ideology of the other party. Today the word ‘opportunism’ seems to have become dominant for people changing parties.”

Associate professor at CSDS, Sanjeer Alam told PTI, “This has to be seen at the macro-level and at micro-level. At the macro-level, if a candidate feels that the atmosphere is in favour of a particular party or there is a wave, then he or she may change sides”.

“At the micro-level, it is electoral dynamics at the constituency level or to cover up the under-performance. Ideology has nothing to do in this regard, Alam said.

Polling will be held in seven phases in Uttar Pradesh and the results will be declared on March 10.

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