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Third Minister Quits Yogi Cabinet, OBC Leader Dharam Singh Saini Likely to Join SP


The Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh was dealt another blow on Thursday as the third minister from the state cabinet quit the BJP. Backward caste leader Dharam Singh Saini, who had earlier denied that he was leaving the party, is likely to join the Samajwadi Party.

Saini is the third cabinet minister and eighth exit from the BJP in three days with the assembly elections less than a month away. Former chief minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav posted a picture of him with Saini on Twitter, hinting that the OBC leader may be headed there but no confirmation is available just yet. Yadav had done the same with OBC leaders Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan, when they resigned from the Yogi cabinet on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Yadav welcomed Saini into the SP fold, tweeting in Hindi: “With the arrival of Dr Dharam Singh Saini ji, another warrior of social justice, our positive and progressive politics has received more enthusiasm and strength. Greetings and a hearty welcome for him in SP.”

Yadav also used the term ‘Mela hobe’ at the end of his tweet, giving a twist to the TMC’s popular ‘Khela hobe’ slogan during the West Bengal assembly elections.

Saini is a four-time MLA from Nakud in Saharanpur district and is considered close to Maurya. His resignation letter circulating on social media, addressed to governor Anandiben Patel, stated that he was quitting over the continued neglect of the aspirations of Dalits, backwards, farmers, educated unemployed, and small and mid-level traders who gave the BJP a sweeping majority in the 2017 assembly elections.

In his letter, Saini claimed that representatives of Dalits and backwards were being neglected. Maurya and Chauhan had also levelled similar allegations on quitting the BJP.

There is, however, no word on whether the Raj Bhavan or even the BJP had accepted the resignations.

Earlier in the day, Shikohabad BJP MLA Mukesh Verma also resigned from the primary membership of the party. He cited the UP government’s “lack of respect” towards backward classes and Dalits as the reason behind his decision. Verma, who is also expected to join the SP, said he would continue the “fight for justice” under Maurya.

Avtar Singh Bhadana, Brijesh Kumar Prajapati, Roshan Lal Varma, Bhagwati Sagar and Vinay Shakya are the other five leaders to have quit the BJP in the last 36 hours. The UP polls will be held in seven phases between February 10 and March 7. The counting of votes will be done on March 10.

(With PTI inputs)

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