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Lok Sabha Election 2019: Big blow to Grand Alliance in UP as 15 BSP leaders join BJP

FE Online

At least 15 prominent leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh. The development assumes significance as Lok Sabha poll dates have been announced and Samajwadi Party and BSP alliance is working on the ground to gain a substantial vote share. Reportedly, out of the fifteen, eleven have even contested assembly and general elections on BSP ticket

According to a report in The Indian Express, in UP, 28 leaders from different Opposition parties, including the SP, RLD and Congress, have joined the ruling party over the last month. However, BSP leaders form a clear majority in that group, with at least one admitting that his move was aimed at securing a ticket from his constituency.

The SP and BSP, which announced an alliance in January, will field 37 and 38 seats respectively in the upcoming polls. The RLD, which is also a part of the alliance, will fight from three seats.

Among the BSP leaders who have switched sides include a state minister and those who have played key organisational roles in the party including Vijay Prakash Jaiswal, who joined the BJP on March 12.

Jaiswal, as a BSP candidate in Varanasi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, secured 60,579 votes against the BJP s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. An OBC leader, Jaiswal switched sides after the Varanasi seat went to the SP.

I got votes because of my personal popularity and not because of the BSP. My presence can help the BJP in Varanasi, Jaiswal told Indian Express.

Another BSP leader who switched on the same day is Gutiyari Lal Duwesh of Agra. Duwesh is a Dalit leader and was elected as MLA on BSP ticket from Agra Cantonment in 2012 but stood second in 2017.

Former BSP national spokesperson Ummed Pratap Singh, who lost the 2007 Assembly election from Rampur Khas in Pratapgarh district, has also joined the BJP. Singh was an active BSP leader but switched after being denied a ticket from Pratapgarh.

Another disappointed hopeful who came to BJP is Vedram Bhati, who won the 2012 Assembly election from Jewar in Gautam Buddh Nagar but lost in 2017.

Ramhet Bharti, a minister in the previous Mayawati government and a Dalit leader from Sitapur district has also joined the saffron brigade. Bharti won the Assembly elections from Hargaon in 2007 and 2012 but lost in 2017.

Three-time MLA Chhotelal Verma, who defeated the SP candidate from Fatehabad in the 2012 Assembly elections, joined the BJP 11 days after Bharti, on February 23. Verma held a minister s rank in the Mayawati government. I have joined the BJP in the hope of getting a Lok Sabha ticket from Fatehpur Sikri, Verma said.

Leaders from the BSP s organisational set-up who have joined the BJP include Udyan Sharma of Mathura, who held the post of the party s election in-charge in the Agra division earlier; Rishabh Tiwari, who was the in-charge of the Payagpur Assembly segment; and, Dhruv Parashar, who was the party s zonal coordinator in Agra.

When contacted, BJP state general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak told Indian Express, We have kept our doors open for new leaders, this will add new voters to the party. More people will join the BJP in the coming days. BSP state president RS Kushwaha did not respond to calls and text messages.

The general election is going to start on April 11 and will continue till May 19. Polling on the 80 seats in the state will be held in seven phases.

Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP will hold a series of joint rallies for the Lok Sabha polls, with the first being on April 7 in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoband town.

The first of these joint rallies will be held in Saharanpur district’s Deoband town on April 7 and will be addressed by SP president Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati and RLD president Ajit Singh.