In yet another boost to Samajwadi Party (SP) ahead of UP State Assembly polls, former Azamgarh Lok Sabha MP Ramakant Yadav, on Sunday joined the party in the presence of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, according to PTI. The four-time MP was previously expelled from Congress for 'anti-party activities' last week. Along with Ramakant Yadav, late dacoit-turned-MP Phoolan Devi's sister Rukmini Devi Nishad too joined SP. Welcoming them, Akhilesh Yadav said, “People are joining the party. We will make sure that the SP grows and uproots the BJP government from power in the 2022 Assembly polls,” according to PTI.
Ramakant Yadav is a four-time MP from Azamgarh who left SP in 2004 for BSP and contested the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. He had previously won the seat twice in 1996 and 1999. He then joined BJP in 2008 and lost the seat to SP Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He had quit the BJP in 2019, after not being given a Lok Sabha ticket.
He contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on a Congress ticket from Bhadohi constituency. He failed to win the seat. A week ago, he was expelled by the Congress over reports that he was planning to join the SP. Now, he has stated that rejoining SP after 15 years was a 'homecoming for him'.
Earlier in July, Congress had expelled several of its leaders due to their alleged anti-party activities. Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) spokesperson Brijendra Kumar Singh in a statement said that the leaders had been expelled from the party for six years for their anti-party activities. The expelled leaders include -- Former MLAs Anugrah Narayan Singh and Vinod Choudhary, Ram Jiavan, former District Congress president of Ambedkar Nagar district Firoz Khan, Achhan Khan, Gaurav Pandey, Surendra Shukla, and Vijma Kersarvani. Apart from these leaders, Ravi Prakash Ravendra too has been expelled from the party for two years.
Bypolls are set to be held in 11 Assembly seats in the state on October 21, 2019. The counting for the byelection is slated for October 24, 2019. The 11 seats up for byelections include Pratapgarh, Lucknow Cantt, Rampur, Gangoh, Govindpur, Jalalpur, Zaidpur, Iglas, Manikpur, Ghosi, and Balham. BSP is set to contest on all seats independently after Mayawati broke the Gathbandhan in May. Meanwhile, BJP and Samajwadi Party have asked their respective alliance partners to field the candidates in some constituencies. Congress, on the other hand, is eyeing a comeback, cashing in on the SP-BJP major tussle ahead of state assembly polls in 2022.