BJP rebels join SP, Akhilesh smells victory


Lucknow, Jan 14 (UNI) Former Uttar Pradesh Ministers Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini and MLAs Bhagwati Sagar, Vinay Shakya, Roshan Lal Verma, Mukesh Verma and Brajesh Kumar Prajapati -- all of who quit the BJP -- and Apna Dal MLA Chaudhary Amar Singh on Friday joined the Samajwadi Party.

The rebel BJP leaders joined the Samajwadi Party in the presence of its chief and former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at a virtual rally organised at the party headquarters here.

Speaking on the occasion, Akhilesh Yadav said: "Babaji (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath) does know how to play cricket. In case he knows, then he has dropped the catch."

He said Adityanath talks about 80-versus-20 but in reality 80 per cent of the people were already with the Samajwadi Party alliance. "I can say today after hearing Swami Prasad Maurya that even the 20 per cent have turned against the BJP."

Akhilesh Yadav said the BJP was claiming it would form a government with three-fourths majority "but they do not have any concrete achievements to tell".

"They promised to double the income of the farmers but they failed to do so. They hiked the prices of petrol and diesel. Youths who went to seek respect and justice were lathi-charged."

He said the people of Uttar Pradesh want a change and they will bring about a change.

"People were waiting for the right time and the time has come. Some say that this election is a semi-final, but in reality this is the final.

"This time the Samajwadis and Ambedkarites have come together, I think (we) will get 400 seats in the assembly elections," he added. "Babaji has failed and he is not going to pass this time. They will be cleaned out this time."

Taking a jibe at the BJP, he said: "BJP leaders have got out hit-wicket. They failed to understand our strategy. Even the media failed to guess our strategy."

Earlier, Swami Prasad Maurya -- who was the first Minister to quit the Uttar Pradesh government -- came down heavily on the BJP.

"This time it's 85 versus 15. Ours is 85 and there is division in the remaining 15," he said.

On the Hindu card of the BJP, he asked: "Are Scheduled Castes and backwards not Hindus? If they are Hindus, why were they deprived of reservation? Seats of reserved category were given to the general category without inviting applications or issuing ads."

He added: "I have shaken hands with Akhilesh Yadav because he is educated and young. I have not formed a political party. But I have the backing of the masses."