The Election Commission of India (ECI) had banned physical rallies till January 15 in view of rising COVID-19 cases. However, these guidelines were brazenly violated at a Samajwadi Party (SP) event on Friday (January 14). Even though it was said to be a "virtual rally", hundreds of people were seen at the event where several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders joined the SP.
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Meanwhile, former Uttar Pradesh Ministers Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, who resigned this week from the Yogi Adityanath government and the ruling BJP ahead of Assembly polls, joined the SP today in presence of the party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
Along with the former Ministers, the sitting MLAs Bhagwati Sagar, Vinay Shakya, Roshan Lal Verma, Mukesh Verma and Brajesh Kumar Prajapati have also joined SP.
Apna Dal MLA Chaudhary Amar Singh, Former BSP MLA Neeraj Kushawaha Maurya, former BJP MLC Harpal Saini, former BSP MLA Balram Saini, former BJP MLA Rajendra Pratap Singh, former Minister of State Vidrohi Maurya, former Chief Security Officer Padam Singh and former Congress MLA Bansi Singh Pahadiya joined the party.
The spate of resignations began with Swami Prasad Maurya quitting the cabinet. Maurya, a prominent leader from the OBC community, had joined the BJP from BSP. Dara Singh Chauhan had resigned as minister on Wednesday. Dharam Singh Saini became the third minister on Thursday.
In his address, Akhilesh Yadav took a swipe at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, saying by the "80 versus 20" assertion, he meant the BJP will get 20 per cent of seats in the Uttar Pradesh elections while the rest 80 per cent will go to his party.
But after the arrival of Swami Prasad Maurya and others in the SP, the saffron party would lose even this 20 per cent, Yadav said in his speech after giving party membership to Maurya and others here.
"Baba mukhya mantri (Adityanath) should engage a math teacher," the SP president said, referring to the chief minister's "80 vs 20" remarks.
Uttar Pradesh assembly elections will be held in seven phases from February 10 to March 7. The polling in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7.
(With PTI inputs)