Boost for BSP in eastern UP: Ex-SP minister Ambika Chaudhary switches sides
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got a much-needed boost before the Assembly elections when Ambika Chaudhary, a senior Samajwadi Party leader, joined Mayawati's blue brigade on Saturday.
Welcoming the former SP minister to her party, Mayawati said Chaudhary, a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, would be given a ticket to contest the polls from his traditional seat of Phephna, near Ballia, in the eastern part of the state. He was not expecting a ticket from the SP.
Chaudhary, who was minister of revenue, relief and rehabilitation, as well as the person responsible for Uttar Pradesh Public Service Management, was close to Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Singh Yadav, but had fallen out of favour with Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav.
In one of his many reshuffles, Akhilesh had taken away Chaudhary's portfolios and made him in charge of backward welfare and handicapped welfare departments.
He was later dropped from the government altogether, as he was too close to Mulayam and Shivpal for Akhilesh's comfort.
Chaudhary had been with the SP for almost its entire existence of 25 years. Although he had lost the 2012 Assembly poll from Phephna to the Bharatiya Janata Party, he has a sizeable following in the region, and is expected to bolster the BSP's chances in eastern Uttar Pradesh. He was elected from the Kopachit constituency in Ballia in 2007.
Chaudhary said he left the SP because he was 'saddened' by the 'embarrassment' caused to Mulayam by his Chief Minister son, whose aim was 'not to serve and protect the interests' of the people, but 'something else.
"The events of the last few months have proved that the objective of all that happened was something else," said Chaudhary, who was regularly seen in the Mulayam camp throughout the family feud in December and January.
He said he would now contribute to the BSP's social engineering formula and work for the party's victory in the Assembly elections.
With discontent rising over ticket distribution, the SP may see some more of its members exiting the party.
Making up for SP Maurya's loss
With Chaudhary's induction, the BSP has more or less made up for the loss of Swami Prasad Maurya, who is now said to be ruing his decision to join the BJP and is mulling another somersault to join the SP.
The BJP was not keen to accommodate Maurya's demands to give a ticket to his son or daughter.
BJP the destination for ticket-seekers
Compared to Chaudhary, Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi and his wife Abhilasha, who is the mayor of Allahabad, are no political lightweights either. Nand Gopal was the Congress party's divisional in-charge in Allahabad. The couple joined the BJP on 19 January. While Abhilasha was Congress candidate in the mayoral elections, Nand Gopal had defeated BJP's Keshari Nath Tripathi in the 2007 elections and was made a minister. He lost the 2012 election to SP's Haji Parvez Ahmed.
The BSP has seen the maximum defections, with 15 of its sitting MLAs joining the BJP in the past few months. Five legislators of the Congress, three of the SP and two of the Rashtriya Lok Dal have also joined the saffron party in anticipation of getting a ticket.
In its first list, the BJP has accommodated many of the BSP turncoats, even at the risk of antagonising its party cadre. It is now witnessing a rebellion of sorts, with party members threatening to resign if outsiders are given preferential treatment in ticket distribution.
With the nomination process having begun for the first two phases of the seven-phased election, there's still a lot of time for ticket-seekers to knock at the doors of one party or the other.
Despite Akhilesh's confidence and Mayawati's preparedness for the polls, it is the BJP which seems to be a bigger draw for ticket-seekers.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma