The former ministers joined SP in presence of party chief Akhilesh Yadav on January 14 (Image: ANI)
Former ministers in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, along with other ex-BJP legislators, joined Samajwadi Party at a function in Lucknow on January 14.
Bhagwati Sagar, Vinay Shakya, Mukesh Verma and Roshan Lal Verma were among the former legislators of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who joined the SP at the event.
READ: MC Election Update Today January 14: Swami Prasad Maurya, Dharam Singh Saini, 2 other ex-BJP MLAs join SP
Sagar represented Bilhaur seat in Kanpur, Shakya was a legislator from Bidhuna, Roshan Lal Verma from Tilhar and Mukesh Verma, a BJP MLA from Shikohabad.
Chaudhary Amar Singh, an MLA from BJP ally Apna Dal (S), from Shoratganj was also welcomed by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.
The ruling BJP has been witnessing a string of defections over the last few days. The turmoil began with the resignation of cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya who was followed by two cabinet ministers Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini and other MLAs.
Also, read: BJP faces OBC challenge in UP after high-profile exits
The rebels had quit the BJP citing "gross neglect" towards Dalits, backwards, farmers, unemployed youth and small traders as reasons.
Maurya is the most high-profile leader to leave the BJP. He was minister of labour, employment and coordination. Another Minister and OBC leader to quit on January 13 was Saini, a four-time legislator from Nakud in Saharanpur. He was the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ayush, Food Security and Drug Administration in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet.
Chauhan, an MLA from eastern UP, who has also been an MP, is also a prominent OBC leader. He was Minister of Forest, Environment, Zoological Garden in Yogi Cabinet. He is also expected to join the SP soon.
Also, read: Who is Swami Prasad Maurya and what impact will his exit from BJP have on Uttar Pradesh polls
Maurya, Chauhan and Saini had switched to BJP ahead of 2017 assembly elections, eventually won by the saffron party.
The series of resignations ahead of polls is a clear setback to the ruling BJP, which, like other parties, has been trying to reach out to the backwards, especially the non-Yadav OBCs – a strong vote bank, comprising 35 percent of the population in the state.
Uttar Pradesh will vote in seven phases
between February 10 and March 7. Counting for the 403 assembly seats will take place on March 10.