Two legislators from regional party Apna Dal (Sonewal) have taken to a round dozen, the number of resignations received by the BJP-led ruling alliance in Uttar Pradesh, days before elections are held in the state. Swami Prasad Maurya, the man whose exit from the BJP triggered the exodus, is expected to formally join the Samajwadi Party today 

On Thursday evening, Chaudhary Amar Singh, who represents the Shohratgarh assembly constituency, confirmed that he had met Samajwadi Party boss Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow and that he was quitting the Apna Dal (Sonewal). He said he would join the Samajwadi Party and that “soon more people will join us.” 

Chaudhary Amar Singh is expected to be fielded from his seat Shohratgarh by the Samajwadi Party in this year’s election. 

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Another Apna Dal (Sonelal) leader Rakesh Kumar Verma, who is the MLA from the Vishwanathganj seat in Pratapgarh, said he would formally resign from his party on Friday, promising to list the reasons he is leaving. 

The two join a list of 10 lawmakers, including three ministers, who have resigned from the BJP since Tuesday, in a big jolt to UP’s ruling party. The spate of resignations was set in motion by the exit from the party of powerful OBC (other backward caste) leader and the state’s labour minister Swami Prasad Maurya

Maurya, imported by the BJP from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party in 2016, walked out of the BJP alleging that the party had neglected Dalits and other underprivileged communities. Three MLAs close to Maurya – Raushan Lal Verma, Bhagwati Sagar and Brijesh Prajapati – resigned the same day

Since then, two more ministers Dharam Singh Saini and Dara Singh Chauhan of the BJP, both influential OBC leaders, have put in their papers. As have four more MLAs, Avtar Singh Bhadana, Vinay Shakya, Bala Avasthi and Mukesh Verma.

Maurya has said he will formally join the Samajwadi Party today. Akhilesh Yadav has already welcomed him to his party. Most of the others who have quit the BJP too are said to be headed to the Samajwadi Party. 

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Avtar Singh Bhadana, the MLA from Meerapur, has wasted no time joining the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) headed by Jayant Chaudhary. The RLD is an ally of the Samajwadi Party.

The BJP hopes to win a second straight term for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the Uttar Pradesh elections to be held in seven phases starting February 10. The Samajwadi Party is seen as the BJP’s chief rival as Akhilesh Yadav goes about sewing up strategic alliances with smaller parties in the run-up to the elections. 

Akhilesh Yadav, ousted by the BJP in 2017, is eyeing a second term as chief minister too. 

The BJP’s mammoth win in 2017 netted it 312 of UP’s 403 assembly seats. Ally Apna Dal (Sonelal), led by Anupriya Patel contested 12 seats and had won nine. Patel is a minister in the BJP-led government at the Centre.

Votes in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election will be counted on March 10.