Shortly after news of Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav's possible decision to contest assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, his sister-in-law Aparna Yadav has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party after an announcement was made by Haryana BJP leader Arun Yadav.
"Aparna Yadav, the wife of Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger son Pratik will join BJP tomorrow in the presence of Yogi Adityanath at 10 AM," Yadav tweeted on Wednesday.
Aparna Yadav is the wife of Akhilesh Yadav's brother Pratik Yadav, the younger son of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. BJP leaders, welcoming her to the party, referred to her as "Mulayam Singh's bahu (daughter-in-law)". She had contested the 2017 UP election from Lucknow Cantt as a Samajwadi candidate but lost to Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who had quit the Congress then to join the BJP.
"I have always been inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi," Aparna Yadav said, wearing BJP colours. She went on to say that she hoped to do her utmost in service of the party and country, and said that she had always found the BJP to be a source of inspiration.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya, who attended the joining function, remarked that Akhilesh Yadav was a failure in family matters as well as in politics.
The move comes in the wake of the dramatic exit of three key UP ministers in the ruling party quitting to join the Samajwadi Party along with 8 BJP MLA's. The main allegation raised by former ministers Mukesh Verma and Swami Prasad Maurya were that the BJP government in UP had not fulfilled its promises towards backwards communities.
"The BJP is going to contest the upcoming UP elections under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We are going to reach out to people showing the work done by the double-engine government," said Rakesh Tripathi state BJP spokesperson. He added that those who left the BJP for "selfish reasons" would never be accepted by the people.
Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav's son, has emerged as the key challenger to the ruling BJP in the crucial UP elections. He has also earned the backing of several opposition parties - Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and Sharad Pawar's NCP - that are trying to put up an anti-BJP front ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
In a related development, the Trinamool Congress in UP announced on Tuesday that they would not be contesting elections as they were backing the Samajwadi Party in the state and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would be campaigning for the SP, Samajwadi Vice-President Kiranmay Nanda said on Tuesday.
An NDTV report has quoted sources in the Samajwadi Party as saying his decision to join the assembly poll fray despite having stated that he would not was due to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's decision to contest in the polls for the first time. It is not known yet which seat Akhilesh will contest from.