Thakur leaders get the Join-BJP itch in Uttar Pradesh

Upper caste leaders� return to the party being masterminded by Rajnath Singh to avenge his sidelining by BJP president Amit Shah

Thakur leaders get the Join-BJP itch in Uttar Pradesh

Thakur leaders in Uttar Pradesh are making a beeline to BJP ahead of the state Assembly election, which is due in early 2017, following the public mood after demonetisation.

Sources say Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, the UP Minister of Food and Civil Supplies in the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet, and a Thakur heavyweight, has met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh twice, once during the last week. While the two discussed all possibilities, Raja Bhaiya is keen to exit the Samajwadi Party set-up without too much criticism. Raja Bhaiya won as an Independent from Kunda and joined the cabinet. He was also named in the murder of DSP Zia Ul Haq.

Raja Bhaiya had served as minister of programme implementation in the BJP’s Kalyan Singh-led government in 1997, and was minister in the Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh governments in 1999 and 2000 respectively.

Rajnath Singh, also a Thakur leader, is effecting such ground-level changes to demonstrate his usefulness and political potency to BJP chief Amit Shah. If the BJP makes gains in UP, it will be Singh’s answer to Shah’s sidelining him in several public forums.

Another strongman Dhananjay Singh has also met Rajnath. Though the Home Minister has okayed his move to the BJP, Dhananjay Singh, the former Jaunpur MP, is learnt to be deciding on what course he will take.

Both Dhananjay Singh and Raja Bhaiya are related to Rajnath. Raja Bhaiya is having a rough time in the SP camp since his ties with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is are not good because he’s said to raise questions.

Sources say Dhananjay Singh is not with any party though he represented the BSP from Jaunpur earlier. It’s possible the two leaders, the bahubalis, may join the BJP together.

Elections to the 403-member UP Assembly is expected to be held in February next year with the recent decision of the state government to postpone examinations in schools and colleges to March and April 2017.

The SP has announced 181 candidates with 23 names being the most recent announcement, including mafia don Atiq Ahmad from Kanpur Cantonment.  The recent announcement has put the strains in the SP out in the public again. With state SP president Shivpal Yadav giving tickets to Atiq Ahmad and Sigbatullah Ansari, the brother of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, it might not go down well with Akhilesh Yadav who has been trying to clean up the SP image.

Further, the alliance talks between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress have not been formally called off though they are in their terminal stage. The BSP is said to have finalised its list but has not declared them yet.