Singh’s visit gains significance as it comes at a time when the state is heading towards polls and the party is hard-pressed to explain its diffidence on a caste census.
A meeting between Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Dev has led to several speculations and counterclaims. Singh’s visit gains significance as it comes at a time when the state is heading towards polls and the party is hard-pressed to explain its diffidence on a caste census, and is pushing it OBC outreach.
The two leaders met at a condolence meeting held for the late BJP leader Kalyan Singh in Lucknow on Tuesday. While Singh said he had gone to invite Yadav for the same, the SP, on the other hand, claimed that Singh was unhappy within the BJP and Mulayam Singh Yadav had invited him to join the party. However, Dev said that he had met Mulayam Singh to invite him to a condolence meeting for former chief minister Kalyan Singh.
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After meeting Mulayam Singh Yadav at his residence here, the UP BJP chief had shared on Twitter a picture of him standing with Yadav and had said that he enquired about the SP leader’s well-being and sought his blessings.
In a tweet hours after the meeting, SP digital media coordinator Manish Jagan Agarwal claimed that “netaji (Mulayam) had offered Swatantra Dev Singh to join the Samajwadi Party”. “It seems Swatantra Dev Singh is upset over the backward and Dalits being neglected in the BJP. He might term it as a courtesy meeting but there is something more to it,” he had tweeted.
Agarwal’s tweet was later retweeted by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, sparking intense speculation. But Swatantra Dev said on Tuesday, “I met SP founder Mulayam Singh ji yesterday to invite him for the (Shradhanjali) Sabha here. I also talked to BSP supremo Mayawati ji and she has sent Satish (Chandra Mishra).” He was speaking at the condolence meeting for Kalyan Singh organised in the state capital that was skipped by the Samajwadi Party. Dev said that about 40 small parties were invited, of which 20-25 participated in the Sabha.
Kalyan Singh had died on August 21. A Hindutva icon and an OBC leader, he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri mosque was demolished by ‘kar sevaks’ in Ayodhya in 1992.
The state BJP chief had last week attacked Mulayam’s son and SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav suggesting that he did not pay his last respects to Kalyan Singh due to the fear of riling Muslim voters. Swatantra Dev Singh had asked Akhilesh Yadav if he could not travel a distance of barely a kilometre from his residence to Mall Avenue to pay tributes to the departed leader.
“Has the love for the Muslim vote bank stopped him from paying tributes to the biggest leader of the backward class?” he said in a tweet in Hindi. However, hitting back at him, the SP had said that it was the “Samajwadis” who stood by Kalyan Singh when he was sacked by the saffron party.
Referring to events that took place in 1999, Samajwadi Party (SP) spokesperson Anurag Bhadouria had said, “The BJP should be a national or international company when it comes to marketing events. It was the BJP that had sidelined Kalyan Singh and sacked him. At that time, the SP helped him and gave him the due honour.” Kalyan Singh had allied with SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav after quitting the BJP and launching his own outfit. The bonhomie, however, lasted only for a brief period.