LUCKNOW: The sequence of resignations from the UP Legislative Council continued on Friday with another Samajwadi Party MLC, Sarojini Agarwal, putting in her papers and subsequently surfacing in the BJP.
Agarwal quit the house four years ahead of the end of her tenure, 2021. She submitted her resignation to chairman Ramesh Yadav and it was accepted immediately. This brings down the number of SP MLCs to 62 in an upper house of 100. Agarwal is the fourth MLC to have essayed such a journey from the opposition ranks so far.
While the exits show the dwindling confidence among Samajwadi Party (SP) lawmakers, their timing is significant too: they come when five ministers are looking for empty seats in the state’s legislature so that they can occupy them and continue in their present posts.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy CMs Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and ministers of state Swatendra Deo Singh and Mohsin Raza have time until September 18 to fulfil their constitutional obligation to become members of either of the two houses. However, the point of debate in Lucknow currently is why the ruling party, which swept to power with a three-fourths majority four months ago, needs this tactic to find legislative berths for its ministers.
Indications are that the BJP would rather ot expose itself to public opinion in direct elections when empty MLC seats are available kind courtesy of defectors from the opposition. An Assembly byelection at this stage, involving the state’s chief minister and his two deputies, would be painted as a mini-referendum on its four months of governance and help the opposition find its voice.
For the SP, depleted to 47 in Assembly, the serial resignations come at a time when the leadership credentials of Akhilesh Yadav are under attack from Mulayam-Shivpal loyalists. Sarojini Agarwal’s resignation is a particularly hard blow as she was considered to be close to firebrand SP leader Azam Khan.
The four opposition resignations in the last week can accommodate four of the five BJP ministers. Murmurs in political circles have it that a few more defections are likely in the days to come.
Samajwadi Party leaders respondent to Agarwal’s defection with guarded silence, but the Congress accused the BJP of being scared of facing the people after only four months in office.
BJP leaders, however, claimed the defections are signs of support for the work done by the Adityanath government so far.
Sarojini Agarwal justified her resignation by making the absence of Mulayam Singh Yadav an issue. “I quit the Council and the party due to the absence of Netaji. I was sent to the Council by the party twice by Netaji. Since he is not active any longer, so I was feeling out of place,” she said.