Akhilesh Yadav on Friday taunted the BJP for losing “one wicket after the other” and not fathoming the Samajwadi Party (SP) strategy as he inducted two ministers and six other MLAs who recently deserted the ruling alliance into his Samajwadi Party.
Apart from the six BJP MLAs, a legislator from BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) also joined the Samajwadi Party at a large public meeting in the compound of the party office, a defiance of Covid norms that led to the registration of a case.
The Election Commission (EC) has banned election meetings till January 15. In apparent deference to the EC order, the meeting was called a “virtual rally” and a “press conference”, going by the banner behind the dais.
“The BJP wickets are falling one after the other. Our ‘baba’ CM doesn’t know how to play cricket. Even if he knew, he has dropped the catch,” the SP president commented on Yogi Adityanath, the face of the ruling party in the UP polls.
Mr Yadav also mocked the chief minister over his “80 versus 20” remark, suggesting that Yogi Adityanath should get himself a math teacher.
The Chief Minister had recently said 80 per cent of the voters will be on the BJP’s side and the remaining 20 percent against it in next month’s assembly polls, a jibe that many thought alluded to the Muslim proportion of the state’s population.
The SP leader said the real proportion of those with the two rivals was just the opposite.
And after the entry of Swami Prasad Maurya and the others in the SP, the BJP would lose even this 20 percent, Mr Yadav said after conferring the party membership to the OBC leader who resigned from the Adityanath cabinet earlier this week.
Mr Maurya too referred to the 80-20 remark. “Now it will be 15 and 85. Eighty-five is ours, there will be divisions in the 15 as well,” he said. He also vowed to “finish” the BJP.
Using wrestling terms, the new entrant challenged BJP leaders to try whatever move they wanted. “I will ground you into the earth. I will finish the Bharatiya Janata Party as the time has come to rid Uttar Pradesh of your oppression.”
Mr Maurya was the first to desert the BJP, and the move was followed by similar announcement by others — mostly leaders from the Other Backward Classes who claimed that the ruling party had ignored their community.
Apart from Maurya, his former cabinet colleague Dharam Singh Saini and five other BJP MLA joined the SP on Friday.
They are Bhagwati Sagar (from Bilhaur in Kanpur), Roshanlal Verma (Tilhar in Shahjahanpur), Vinay Shakya (Bidhuna in Auraiya), Brajesh Prajapati (Tindwari in Bahraich) and Mukesh Verma (Shikohabad in Firozabad).
Amar Singh, an MLA who represented BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal), also joined the opposition party. Several district and block-level politicians, aligned to different parties, also switched sides at the event.
But Dara Singh Chauhan, who too had quit the state cabinet, was absent. Sources said he is likely to join the SP on Sunday.
Red turbans were placed on the heads of the new SP members on the dais, where Mr Maurya sat centre stage.
Akhilesh Yadav pooh-poohed the BJP claim of winning three-fourths of the seats in the 403-member UP House. “They meant they will win three or four seats,” he said.
“Baba CM has failed. No matter how many people come from Delhi, he is not going to pass the exams,” he said, referring to the top BJP leaders who have campaigned in UP.
He said the BJP has scored a hit wicket and its leaders are unable to fathom the SP strategy. “Had they known the strategy, they would have started damage control,” the SP chief said.
The crossing over of the OBC leaders could help the SP expand its support base among the backwards, who form over 50 per cent of the UP population.
In he packed SP headquarters compound, there was no scope for social distancing and a large proportion of the crowd did not wear masks.
The local police registered an FIR for violation of coronavirus curbs. It mentioned 2,000 to 2,500 unknown Samajwadi Party activists.
Mr Maurya said Makar Sankranti, the festival that fell on Friday, will mark the end of the BJP.
He claimed that senior BJP leaders were in deep slumber like that of Kumbhkaran, the Ramayan character, and would not listen to ministers or legislators. “They have lost their sleep after our resignations,” the former minister said.
He claimed that the BJP “cheated” the Scheduled Castes, minorities and the backwards to gain power.
Mr Maurya claimed the BJP floated his name and that of the present deputy CM, Keshav Prasad Maurya, ahead of the 2017 elections, and formed the government on the basis of the votes of the backwards.
He described Yogi Adityanath as the ‘Skylab’ from Gorakhpur that was made to land on the Chief Minister’s chair, depriving the backward castes that position.
Mr Maurya boasted that after his departure from the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mayawati could never return to power. “And now BJP will be reduced to its 2012 position of the number three party in UP and Akhilesh will become the CM.”