Om Prakash Rajbhar offers to quit as UP minister, sets BJP 24 Feb deadline to mend ways if it wants Suheldev party's support

Uttar Pradesh Cabinet minister Om Prakash Rajbhar Thursday offered to resign as he alleged that his recommendations in appointment of state backward castes panel members have been "ignored", CNN-News18 reported.

Rajbhar said he would hand over the charge of the backward class welfare department to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The minister, whose Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) is an ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, said "A number of people from backwards castes had applied for various posts in the UP State Commission for Backward Classes. A list was prepared, and names of 28 persons were proposed by us (ministry)."

"After the file reached the chief minister's office, we came to know that names of 27 people are missing. Chairman, vice-chairman were arbitrarily made. Now what is the relevance of this minister?" a disgruntled Rajbhar told PTI in Lucknow.

File image of SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar. ANI

File image of SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar. ANI

"When a minister cannot have a say in selection of a member and all the work is to be done by the chief minister, then what is the point of the department being handled by me. The social justice panel's recommendations are waiting to be implemented. If the Backward Class Welfare Department is with me, then it is my job to fight for them and for their rights," he said.

The committee, constituted in May last year, had in its recommendations to the state government, favoured division of backward castes in three categories backward, very backward and most backward.

Backward classes account for about 44 percent of the electorate in the state and play a crucial role in making or marring political prospects of any party.

The panel's recommendation to classify various OBC and Dalit sub-castes into three broad categories and provide quota within quota to them is likely to spice up the political scene in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Rajbhar also alleged discrepancies in distribution of scholarship to children hailing from backward castes.

"When you speak about sabka saath sabka vikas, then there should be a parity. When you indulge in 'manmaani' (arbitrary conduct), then what will you do by taking us along? Are we only there to fetch votes for you?," the SBSP leader posed.

Rajbhar said, "I will hand over the backward class welfare department to chief minister requesting him to run it. I do not want it."

In 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the BJP had bagged 312 out of 403 seats, while SBSP had won four seats. Another ally of the coalition, the Apna Dal (Sonelal), had won nine seats.

On 10 February, the SBSP had warned that it will part ways with the BJP if the recommendations of the Social Justice Committee are not implemented by 24 February.

"If the BJP does not agree to the demands raised by us, we will definitely part ways with them. If it does not implement the recommendations of the Social Justice Committee by 24 February, then our path would be separate, and subsequently, we will contest in all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state," SBSP general secretary Arun Rajbhar told PTI.

He also said, "We can even go with the anti-BJP alliance if the need rises. A number of talks have been held with them. This is the last warning. After 24 February, there will be no agreement with the BJP."

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2019 15:44:53 IST

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