Yogi Adityanath has finally removed minister OP Rajbhar, an estranged BJP ally who had wanted out a month ago. Mr Rajbhar, who had been part of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh since 2017, had publicly criticized the Chief Minister for nearly a year.
Mr Rajbhar, the chief of the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party, claimed to have handed in his resignation last month. "We welcome the decision. The decision taken by the Chief Minister was a delayed one... I quit in April but Yogi didn't accept it. The speed with which you removed me, do work for backward castes with the same speed," he told reporters this morning.
Since last year, Mr Rajbhar had been publicly targeting Yogi Adityanath, accusing him of neglecting allies and the backward castes. In April, he dramatically marched into Yogi Adityanath's home in Lucknow at 3 am with his resignation letter and demanded to see him. He left when told that the chief minister was sleeping. The party managed to placate him and stop him from storming out of the coalition.
Mr Rajbhar's sacking finally came about a day after exit polls predicted a huge win for the BJP in the national election and another term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Sunday, he had needled the BJP again by telling reporters that in eastern UP, the opposition alliance of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav would win big. Hours later, exit polls suggested that the BJP would score big, and losing some seats to the opposition alliance in UP wouldn't really make a difference.
Mr Rajbhar has fielded candidates in 39 seats, including in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi.
Earlier this month, he declared that the alliance was over. "I resigned as minister on April 13. It is up to the BJP to decide whether to accept or reject it. I have nothing to do with the government now," he had told reporters on May 6.
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