Swami Prasad Maurya, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet, resigned from his post and joined the Samajwadi Party less than a month ahead of the Assembly elections. Maurya, who got elected from Padrauna constituency, held the labour portfolio in the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet.

“Despite a divergent ideology, I worked with dedication in the Adityanath Cabinet,” Maurya said in his resignation letter. “But because of the grave oppression of the Dalits, Other Backward Classses, farmers, unemployed and small businessmen, I am resigning.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav posted a photo with Maurya on Twitter. In his post, Yadav hinted that some aides of Maurya could also join the Samajwadi Party.

“Swami Prasad Maurya, a champion of social justice and equality, and other leaders, workers and supporters along with him are welcome in the Samajwadi Party,” Yadav wrote on Twitter.

Soon after Swami Prasad Maurya resigned, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya urged him to hold talks and reconsider his decision.

“I don’t know why Swami Prasad Maurya has resigned, but I urge him to sit and talk...Hasty decisions often turn out to be wrong.”

Reports suggested that at least three other BJP MLAs – Brijesh Prajapati, Bhagwati Sagar and Roshan Lal Verma – have quit the party.

However, only Prajapati has officially confirmed his resignation. In his resignation letter, Prajapati also accused the BJP of undermining the interests of the Dalit community, farmers, unemployed persons and small businessmen.

Meanwhile, Verma told reporters that he will announce his decision on quitting the BJP on January 14, ANI reported.

The crucial 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly will go to polls in seven phases starting from February 10. The results will be announced on March 10.