- BJP's Mahendra Nath Pandey called S-BSP leader Kailash Sonkar a "thief"
- Mr Pandey made the statement at Mr Sonkar's constituency Ajghara
- Mr Sonkar threatened that he could go to court over the matter
On Tuesday, while inaugurating Central projects in Mr Sonkar's constituency Ajghara, near Varanasi, Mr Pandey said the lawmaker's name cannot be put on the foundation stone as he has "turned out to be a thief".
"I am saying it very clearly...I have been told that he (Kailash Sonkar) has been looting poor people. It is the people who are complaining against him. We will not tolerate any corruption from elected representatives," said Mr Pandey.
"I cannot understand why he has used these words against me," said Mr Sonkar, who had skipped the inauguration. "I am exploring legal options and I will ensure that my name is not sullied like this".
The BJP's ties with S-BSP - a party which has wide support in the eastern part of the state and four seats in the 403-member assembly -- have been going downhill for the last few months.
Just before Rajya Sabha polls in March, S-BSP chief and state minister Om Prakash Rajbhar criticised Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, saying he wasn't consulting allies in matters of governance. Mr Rajbhar had threatened the BJP, saying his party's four lawmakers would not vote for the BJP candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections.
Lately, several allies have felt slighted by the BJP. The Akali Dal and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have also indicated they want better treatment. The Shiv Sena said it would not be part of the NDA in the coming general election and Chandrababu Naidu has already pulled out of the coalition.
That, coupled with a string of crushing defeats in by-elections, pushed party chief Amit Shah to visit regional partners to keep the flock together ahead of next year's general election.
In Uttar Pradesh, particularly, NDA unity is crucial, given the concerted effort of the opposition to put up a united front. In the recent by-elections, the BJP lost Kairana and Noorpur to the opposition. In March, the party lost two prestige seats in Uttar Pradesh.
In August, the party brought in Mr Pandey, a union minister, to replace Keshav Prasad Maurya as state BJP chief. Sources in the BJP said the central leadership was trying to get back the Brahmin votes, as the community was feeling let down ever since a new state government led by Yogi Adityanath, a Thakur, became the state's Chief Minister.
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