The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heartland desertion blow to BJP

Lucknow, Nov. 11: Several sitting BJP members of the Legislative Council have spurned their party’s offer to overlook their “acts of indiscipline” and switched to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.

Six of them have already got Samajwadi tickets to contest for 36 seats in the 100-member Council, leaving the BJP leadership helpless.

The elections to these seats will be held on December 1. The electoral college is made up of gram pradhans and members of the civic bodies as well as zilla panchayats.

“We already taken action against two of them and were hoping that the others would reform. But now that our hopes have been belied, the party’s state president Vinay Katiyar may be forced to take action against them,” senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra said today.

Among the BJP MLCs-turned-Samajwadi candidates are Ajit Singh, Shailendra Pratap Singh, Bharat Tripathi, Ganesh Pandey and Raj Kumar Agarwal. Upbeat Samajwadi leaders claimed that “more BJP leaders are coming to us”.

The desertions have stunned the BJP. But spokesperson Hriday Narain Dixit tried to put up a brave face, saying: “We have expelled Bharat Tripathi. Action against the others will be initiated shortly.”

Independent MLC Akshay Pratap Singh was backed by the BJP last time. But being an acolyte of Raja Bhaiyya, the jailed MLA who has shifted his allegiance to Mulayam Singh, his switchover was a forgone conclusion, Dixit said.

BJP leaders are accusing Mulayam Singh of adopting unfair means to pack the upper House with his cronies.

“The Mulayam government has flagrantly violated the election code by sacking nominated members of the local bodies and zilla panchayats who form the electoral college for the elections to the upper House and nominated Samajwadi henchmen in their places,” Dixit added.

Katiyar has shot off a formal protest to the Election Commission and sought cancellation of the fresh nominations. But so far, it has not evoked any response.

Of the 36 seats to which elections are being held, 22 are presently held by the BJP, 11 by the Samajwadi and three by others. Encouraged by the exodus from the BJP, the ruling party is now trying its best to secure majority in the upper House.

Samajwadi attempts to poach on parties have not been directed at the BJP alone. Even the Congress — which has been gloating over the change in loyalty of former BJP minister and Amethi MLA Amita Singh — has cried foul.

“As a party supporting the Mulayam government, we had expected Mulayam to consult us before making these nominations. But he is behaving as if he is running a single-party government,” state Congress chief Jagdambika Pal said.

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