In a major setback to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), senior leader and a prominent Brahmin face in the party, Brajesh Pathak, on Monday quit BSP and joined the BJP ahead of the upcoming polls. According to reports, BJP National President Amit Shah and Union Minister Mahesh Sharma were also present during Pathak's induction in the BJP who described Pathak as a "pillar" in the Hardoi-Unnao region of the state.
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In an interesting turn of events, Pathak was ousted from BSP — over accusations of anti-party activities — and barely a few minutes earlier he had been inducted into the BJP. The news of his expulsion was conveyed to the media by senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, according to a report in Amar Ujala. Mishra also said that Pathak's brother Rajesh Pathak and brother-in-law Guddu Tripathi were ousted from the party earlier, on similar charges.
Reportedly, Pathak, a big name in Unnao region of the state and one of party's influential Brahmin face, was a close aide of BSP supremo Mayawati. According to Patrika, Pathak is a prominent face in the Central belt of the region; his changing loyalties will also bring his support base and several other big names to BJP's folds. According to the Jagaran report, Pathak's wife may also join BJP soon.
Besides, this is not the only shock the BSP must recover ahead of the UP polls. Earlier, two other prominent BSP leaders Swamy Prasad Maurya and RK Maurya had jumped ships to join BJP. However, Mayawati had tried to downplay the loss "There is no place for selfish people in BSP. Chaudhary was expelled from the party in 2001. His departure had no effect earlier and will not have any impact this time too," the BSP had said when Chaudhary announced his resignation, while it dubbed Maurya's decission to quit party "a huge favour to the BSP."
However, unlike Maurya and Chaudhary who tore into BSP supremo Mayawati as they joined BJP, Pathak did not attack her but said nepotism, corruption and goondaism ruled the roost in the state.
Soon after joining the BJP, Pathak said that the state is infested with criminals who also wield power in the legislative set-up. Lamenting the "goonda raj" in the state, Pathak said that a BJP government was necessary to purge anti-social elements from the state and improve law and order situation, according to the report in Jagaran.
Ironically, Pathak himself is perceived to be a leader with a criminal clout. The leader hailing from Hardoi, had declared his net worth to be around 1.5 crore in the 2004 polls when he was elected from the Unnao seat. According to a report in Pardaphash, in his affidavit filed to the election commission, the leader had conceded that he was named in several cases of abduction.
The report in Patrika speculates that dissenting voices amid the ranks of the BJP cannot be ruled out, as on previous occasions various leaders had opposed party's association with leaders with a damaged public image.
BJP is counting on the former Unnao Lok Sabha MP and now a sitting Rajya Sabha member, to help it win over Brahmin voters, who are also being wooed by Congress.
Meanwhile it is noteworthy that until Sunday Pathak was trusted with important roles in the party. According to a report in Jagaran he was the media convener for one of Mayawati's important election rallies in Agra held just a day before his expulsion.
When asked about his presence in the BSP rally and he joining BJP is less than 24 hours, he said he was doing his job in BSP as long as he was there.
Interestingly, earlier in August, news of Pathak's joining BJP filtered in through social media but he rubbished such claims terming them rumours spread by notorious elements. "I am a BSP worker and Mayawati Ji is my leader. I will continue to work under her guidance," Pathak had told Pradesh 18 as quoted in an article dated 9 August.
The move is being looked upon as a major stumbling block for the BSP's bid to secure Brahmin votes along with its traditional votebank of Dalits and Muslims in the UP assembly elections, due next year. The erstwhile manuwadi-hating BSP supremo Mayawati is also making all efforts to woo Brahmin votes. And, a combination of the three communities is seen as a major political equation that Mayawati had mastered and executed succesfully in previous elections.
He said he had played a role in swinging Brahmin voters to BSP during the 2007 Assembly polls, but Brahmins were disappointed by the party. Pathak was among the leading faces who had garnered Brahmin suppport for the BSP, traditionally seen as anti-upper caste.
With inputs from PTI