- Ex-Samajwadi leader Naresh Agrawal was once close to Akhilesh Yadav
- He made controversial comments against Jaya Bachchan
- Naresh Agrawal is known to make controversial comments
"Shri Naresh Agarwal has joined Bhartiya Janata Party. He is welcome. However, his comments regarding Jaya Bachchan ji are improper and unacceptable," union minister Sushma Swaraj has tweeted.
"I have been compared with those who dance and work in films," said Mr Agrawal, referring to Jaya Bachchan. Mrs Bachchan, an actor-turned-politician, was picked last week by the Samajwadi Party as its nominee for the one Rajya Sabha seat the party can win in elections this month. The terms of six of its Rajya Sabha MPs from Uttar Pradesh is ending, but a debacle in assembly elections last year means that Akhilesh Yadav can send back only one.
Naresh Agrawal lost that race to Jaya Bachchan and stomped out of his party of two decades to join the BJP. He was welcomed at the BJP's Delhi headquarters by union minister Piyush Goyal, but the party was soon left acutely embarrassed by his attack on Jaya Bachchan in his first speech.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra immediately distanced his party from Mr Agrawal's remarks, saying the BJP respects people from all fields and welcomes them in politics.
Naresh Agrawal is known to make controversial comments, including one that mocked Hindu gods and which created an uproar in parliament last year.
"Whatever work the BJP gives me I will accept it. We will do seva for the BJP. I promise to deliver fully," Mr Agrawal said in his speech on Monday, praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah. He also spoke fondly about Samajwadi patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, but said the party's strength in Uttar Pradesh has depleted.
Naresh Agrawal said that his son, a Samajwadi Party legislator in Uttar Pradesh, will vote in favour of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha elections.
The BJP, on Monday, fielded 11 candidates for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats in UP to make a contest of it. The party, after its landslide victory in assembly elections last year, will win eight seats with ease and will have some votes to spare. With a senior leader like Naresh Agrawal switching sides, the party will hope for more cross-voting in the Samajwadi Party, jeopardising Mrs Bachchan's election.
By fielding more than eight candidates, the BJP has also potentially queered the pitch for Mayawati's BSP, which hopes to put one member in the Rajya Sabha with the help of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, in a coming together that is seen to test an alliance ahead of national elections next year.