Six BSP MLAs rebel against party over Ramji Gautam's Rajya Sabha nomination; party claims horse-trading
Four of the six rebel MLAs alleged in an affidavit that their signatures on Gautam's nomination for the Rajya Sabha polls had been forged
Lucknow: In a jolt to the Bahujan Samaj Party on Wednesday, six party MLAs reportedly met Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and later threw hints that they may switch sides.
Four of the group of rebels also filed an affidavit, saying their signatures on the party candidate Ramji Gautam's nomination for the Rajya Sabha polls had been forged.
The move turned out to be futile with the Returning Officer still accepting Gautam's nomination as the BSP candidate for the 9 November biennial elections for the 10 Uttar Pradesh seats that are falling vacant.
Instead, the SP received a setback — the papers filed by Prakash Bajaj, an Independent candidate supported by the party, were rejected at the end of scrutiny of nominations.
Despite the BSP now certain of sending its nominee to the Rajya Sabha, it still faces a revolt by six of the 18 MLAs it has in the state Assembly.
The four MLAs among the 10 proposers for the party candidate met the Returning Officers along with the two others. Then all six went to the Samajwadi Party headquarter and met Akhilesh Yadav, according to an SP MLA who did not want to be named.
But the same SP leader also maintained that the BSP group could also be in touch with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Sushma Patel, who is one of the rebels, later confirmed to reporters that she met Yadav. Two others in the group expressed dissatisfaction over the way their own party treated them, without confirming that there was any meeting with the SP president.
Asked about their future course of action, Shravasti MLA Aslam Raini said there is a general impression that Akhilesh Yadav respects his party members.
The rebels did not specifically target BSP supremo Mayawati while criticising other party leaders.
Without taking names, a BSP leader also indirectly laid the blame for the dramatic development on the SP, with which Mayawati's party was in alliance during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The four MLAs who submitted an affidavit claiming that their signatures were forged are Aslam Raini, Aslam Chaudhary, Mujtaba Siddiqui and Hakim Lal Bind.
Along with them, Hargovind BShargava and Sushma Patel also met the Returning Officer, Raini said. Raini and Siddiqui told reporters that they were unhappy with the interference from BSP coordinators.
"There is no respect in the party for us. I complained about a personal problem recently to our leader Lalji Verma, but to no avail," Siddiqui, who is the MLA from Pratapur in Allahabad, said.
But the three-time legislator made clear that he had no complaints against Mayawati.
Aslam Raini said when he contracted coronavirus in August, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath got him admitted at a private hospital. Both the CM and Akhilesh Yadav inquired about his health on phone, but no leader from his own party called, the MLA said.
The BSP leaders were also upset with a video clip he made during his hospital stay, Raini said.
"I was in hospital and the BSP coordinators were moving about in my constituency telling people not to meet their MLA," he claimed. "It's the same problem with all six of us. Behenji (Mayawati) is not to be blamed, but the coordinators have acted in a manner that has depressed us and we thought what is the use of remaining with such a party," the MLA said.
In an indirect reference to the SP, senior BSP leader Uma Shankar Singh claimed that nomination of industrialist Prakash Bajaj for the Rajya Sabha, filed just two minutes before the deadline on Tuesday, was part of a conspiracy.
"They are out to buy MLAs and felt why not get the nomination of the BSP candidate rejected," he alleged.
The BSP MLA said the rebels were present when Gautam filed his nomination papers. "We have sent pictures of the nomination to the Returning Officer. If they had any objection, they should have given it to the RO by yesterday. Why now?" Singh questioned.
"Everyone knows how this has happened. They cannot take such a big step without an allurement. They should tell how much they got," he added, insinuating horse-trading of the MLAs.
Of the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh that are falling vacant, three were earlier held by the BJP, four by the SP, two by the BSP and one by the Congress.
Previously in 2020, eight MPs were suspended which was the second-highest number.
Though Mayawati did not name any BJP leader, she was apparently referring to the remarks by BJP MP from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj that the laws could be brought again, if needed
A senior police official said that during the course of investigation Zuckerberg's name was dropped, while probe is being carried out against the administrator of the Facebook page that attempted to 'tarnish' the image of the SP chief