Uttar Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party leader Dara Singh Chauhan on Wednesday resigned from the Adityanath Cabinet – the second minister to quit ahead of the Assembly elections, reported NDTV. On Tuesday, Labour Minister Swami Prasad Maurya had resigned from his post and joined the Samajwadi Party.

“I have worked diligently as the Minister of Forest, Environment, Zoological Garden in Adityanath’s government,” Chauhan wrote in his resignation letter. “The government’s ignorance of Dalits, farmers, underprivileged people and unemployed youth and the issues of reservation of Dalits has hurt me and so I am resigning as the minister.”

Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya urged Chauhan to reconsider his move.

“If any family member strays, it is very sad,” Keshav Prasad Maurya said on Twitter. “I can only appeal to the respected leaders who are going, please don’t get on a sinking ship or it will be their loss. Big brother Dara Singh, please reconsider your decision.”

He had made a similar appeal to Swami Prasad Maurya.

Chauhan had switched from Bahujan Samaj Party to the BJP in 2015. He was made the president of BJP’s Other Backward Class unit.

Reports suggested that at least three other BJP MLAs – Brijesh Prajapati, Bhagwati Sagar and Roshan Lal Verma – have also quit the party after Maurya. However, only Prajapati has officially confirmed his resignation.

Maurya and Prajapati had accused the BJP of undermining the interests of the Dalit community, farmers, unemployed persons and small entrepreneurs.

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

Several leaders switch parties ahead of polls

Congress MP Avtar Singh Bhadana on Wednesday joined the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the party chief Jayant Singh Chaudhary said in a tweet.

Congress MLAs Naresh Saini and Hari Om Yadav, and former Samajwadi Party legislator Dharmpal Singh joined the BJP, reported ANI.

Meanwhile, BJP MLA Ravindra Nath Tripathi clarified that he had not quit the party after his purported resignation letter was shared on social media

Tripathi claimed that members of the Opposition parties had forged the letter using his letter pad. He demanded that a first information report be registered in the matter.