In a big jolt to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, a minister and four MLAs quit today and joined the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Uttar Pradesh Minister Swami Prasad Maurya, who posted his resignation letter on Twitter, later met SP chief chief Akhilesh Yadav and formally joined the party. Meanwhile, four more MLAs close to him--Tindwari MLA Brajesh Prajapati, Tilhar MLA Roshan Lal Varma, Bilhaur MLA Bhagwati Sagar and Bidhuna MLA Vinay Shakya-- also announced their resignations.
According to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar, a total of 13 MLAs are going to join the SP.
On Swami Prasad Maurya quitting the state cabinet to join SP, Pawar said, "Every day some new faces will 'migrate' in the run up to the voting."
The NCP chief said he will participate in a meeting called by Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav.
There will be change in Uttar Pradesh, Pawar said, speaking on the fate of the Yogi Adityanath government in the north Indian state. "People need change," he added.
Meanwhile, speaking to NDTV after his resignation, Maurya said the saffron party has "worked against the people".
"Until I quit the BSP, it was the no 1 party in UP. Now it is nowhere. When I joined the BJP, it came out of 14 years of "banwaas (exile)" and formed a majority government," Maurya said. "But they have worked against the people. I expressed dissent at appropriate platforms but my voice was never heard. The result is I have had to resign," he added.
When are the Uttar Pradesh polls?
The Uttar Pradesh polls will be held in seven phases -- on February 10 14, 20, 23, 27, March 3 and 7. The results will be declared on March 10 along with the four other poll-bound states of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.