Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik on Monday sacked Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar from the cabinet on Chief Minister Adityanath’s recommendation. Adityanath has also recommended that other party leaders holding the rank of minister of state be removed immediately, PTI reported.
Rajbhar was the backward class welfare and divyangjan empowerment minister in the Adityanath-led government. The Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party had won four Assembly seats in the elections in 2017. BJP MLA and Minister of State Anil Rajbhar has been given additional charge of departments headed by Rajbhar, reported ANI.
Rajbhar had claimed earlier this month that he resigned as minister from the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on April 13, but it is yet to be accepted. Rajbhar alleged that the BJP was misusing his party’s name and flag for election campaigning in the state.
Rajbhar blamed the BJP for ditching him, according to Hindustan Times. “Had BJP told us two months back we would have made our choices,” he said. “They ditched me and my people. Where will they go now?”
Rajbhar told ANI that Adityanath had taken a “very good decision”. “We welcome his decision,” Rajbhar said. “He [Adityanatha] formed the Social Justice Committee and threw its report in a dustbin, he didn’t have spare time to implement it. I request him to implement Social Justice Committee’s report as quickly as he took this decision today.”
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said Rajbhar was not a leader of the backward classes. “He is just a leader of his family,” Maurya said. “It was because of BJP that he became a MLA and minister.”
State BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey said Rajbhar had “shattered the decorum of alliance dharma”, PTI reported. “The BJP is a party which gives full respect to its allies and honours the coalition dharma,” Pandey said in a statement. “But, it is unfortunate that our alliance partner in UP, Om Prakash Rajbhar, not just violated the decorum of alliance dharma, but shattered it. It is for this reason that the party and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were compelled to take such a strong step.”
Pandey said Rajbhar repeatedly made statements against the BJP and the state government, even opposing some government policies. “He [Rajbhar] not only fielded candidates against the BJP in this Lok Sabha election, but also openly supported candidates of rival political parties. Despite this, we exercised restraint.”
Rajbhar had offered to resign as backward classes welfare minister in February. The Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state and has four MLAs in the state Assembly. But Rajbhar has often been critical of the saffron party.
Last month, Rajbhar had said that his party will contest the Lok Sabha polls in the state alone, if the BJP excludes his party.
Rajbhar has fielded candidates for 40 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh after failing to reach an alliance agreement with the BJP for the elections. He said the BJP was under the impression that it could win all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state and 400 seats in the country “but the reality will dawn on May 23”.
Rajbhar claimed the alliance of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal will win more seats in Uttar Pradesh than the BJP. He said the BJP was worried about Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s constant attacks on the party. He had said in February that his party would be open to joining the alliance.
Exit polls published on Sunday, however, have been a mixed bag. According to Today’s Chanakya, for example, the BJP and its allies are likely to win 65 seats in the state. However, the ABP News-Nielsen poll gives the saffron parties and its alliance partner, Apna Dal, just 22 seats.