Dharam Singh Saini, Team Yogi's Latest Defector, Explains 24-Hour U-Turn

Dharam Singh Saini also explained why just 24 hours ago he had issued a video statement saying he would not be quitting the BJP.

Dharam Singh Saini resigned as minister on Thursday.

Lucknow:

Dharam Singh Saini, who became the third minister to quit Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's government on Thursday weeks before the elections, has told NDTV that the mutiny within the BJP had been brewing for more than a year.

"It was decided 1.5 years ago that we all will resign. When almost 140 MLAs had launched a dharna against the government because of how the downtrodden were being treated. But their voice was suppressed. That was when everyone decided, we will give an answer to this. We were waiting for the right moment. And that is why one minister is resigning every day. This will go on till the 20th," he told NDTV.

Mr Saini also explained why just 24 hours ago he had issued a video statement saying he would not be quitting the BJP. "I had not yet received (SP) Maurya ji's message so I had not quit. Then he reached out. Akhilesh ji also sent a messenger and said, 'Join us, if you feel it's right. We will honour you and work for the backward sections'," he said.

A key OBC (Other Backward Class) leader, Mr Saini was the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ayush in the Yogi Adityanath government.

Just 24 hours after refuting buzz that he was quitting the government, he appeared to be headed to the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party and was seen in a picture with the opposition leader.

Before him, OBC leaders Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan had resigned from the Yogi Adityanath cabinet on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Eight BJP MLAs, including three ministers, have resigned over the past three days.

In his resignation letter addressed to Governor Anandiben Patel, Mr Saini said he was quitting over the continued neglect of the aspirations of Dalits, backward classes, farmers, educated unemployed, and small and mid-level traders who together gave the BJP a sweeping majority in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

He claimed the representatives of Dalits and backwards were also being neglected.

Both Mr Maurya and Mr Chauhan had also levelled similar allegations in their resignation letters. In his tweet, Yadav welcomed Saini into the Samajwadi fold.

"With the arrival of Dr Dharam Singh Saini ji, another warrior of social justice, our positive and progressive politics has received more enthusiasm and strength. Greetings and a hearty welcome for him in SP," he tweeted.

A four-time MLA from Nakud in Saharanpur district, Mr Saini is considered close to Mr Maurya.

Earlier in the day, Shikohabad BJP MLA Mukesh Verma resigned from the party. He cited the Uttar Pradesh government's "lack of respect" towards backward classes and Dalits as the reason behind his decision.

Mr Verma, who is also expected to join the Samajwadi Party, said he would continue the "fight for justice" under Mr Maurya.

The Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections will be held in seven phases between February 10 and March 7. The counting of votes will be done on March 10.

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