Embarrassment for Samajwadi Party as Neeraj Shekhar joins BJP day after resigning from Rajya Sabha

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Published: July 16, 2019 5:46:33 PM

Neeraj Shekhar had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Ballia on a SP ticket and won in 2007 and 2009.

Neeraj ShekharNeeraj Shekhar joined the BJP today in the presence of general secretaries Bhupendra Yadav and Anil Jain. (ANI Photo)

A day after resigning from the Rajya Sabha, former Samajwadi Party leader Neeraj Shekhar officially joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday. Neeraj is the son of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar. He joined the BJP today in the presence of general secretaries Bhupendra Yadav and Anil Jain. He had handed his resignation to vice-president Venkaiah Naidu on Monday, informing him that he was doing so voluntarily.

Neeraj had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Ballia on a SP ticket and won in 2007 and 2009. He lost in the 2014 assembly elections. Neeraj was a prominent leader in the Samajwadi Party and was considered to be close to party president Akhilesh Yadav.

Ballia was considered to be Chandra Shekhar’s stronghold. Even though he was not in the Samajwadi Party, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav did not field a candidate against him in any election. After Shekhar’s death in 2007, his soon Neeraj was fielded from the same seat by Samajwadi party.

After he lost the 2014 elections, the SP nominated him for a Rajya Sabha seat. After Neeraj’s exit, Samajwadi would be left with 13 members in the 245-member house. BJP is likely to nominate Neeraj as its candidate for Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, news agency PTI reported.

Neeraj’s abrupt departure from the Samajwadi Party and his decision to join ranks with the BJP a day after resigning from the Rajya Sabha led to unruly scenes in the Upper House with SP leaders raising slogans against the ruling government. Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav said he is unaware of the reasons behind Neeraj’s decision to join the BJP. “Today is Guru Purnima. I bless him with all my heart that the BJP sends him to the Rajya Sabha and he goes on to become a minister in the Modi government.”

The development comes in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s quest to gain majority in the Rajya Sabha. The NDA’s tally currently stands at 123 in the 245-member House and defections from other parties will embolden the party’s prospects in the Upper House. The election of two members from Gujarat is also set to come as a shot in the arm for the BJP’s plans.

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