The exit of two ministers and four MLAs from the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, less than 30 days before an Assembly election, were followed a day later by three lawmakers – two from the Samajwadi Party and one from the Congress – moving the other way.

Samajwadi Party’s Hariom Yadav, the MLA from Sirsaganj in UP’s Firozabad, took a pot shot at former party boss Akhilesh Yadav, accusing him of running “a party of bootlickers”.

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“Samajwadi Party is no longer the party of Mulayam Singh Yadav (Akhilesh Yadav’s father). It is a party of bootlickers who have surrounded Akhilesh and want to weaken him,” he told reporters Thursday.

“Ram Gopal Yadav (the Samajwadi Party’s General Secretary and a Rajya Sabha MP) and his son do not want me in the party… they feel I am a threat to their existence,” Hariom Yadav alleged.

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Last year in February, a three-time MLA, Hariom Yadav was expelled for “anti-party activities”.

Friction with the Samajwadi Party increased in 2021 after he helped the BJP’s Harshita Singh win Firozabad panchayat elections at the expense of the Samajwadi Party candidate.

Hariom Yadav, who joined the BJP in Delhi on Wednesday in the presence of two UP deputy chief ministers and state unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh, is also Mulayam Yadav’s cousin.

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The BJP’s induction of Hariom Yadav, former BSP MLA Dharampal Singh, and the Congress’ Naresh Saini comes as the BJP was hit with six exits in the space of 48 hours this week, including that of ministers Dara Singh Chauhan and Swami Prasad Maurya.

The other four were MLAs – Roshan Lal Verma, Brijesh Prajapati, Bhagwati Sagar and Vinay Shakya, who added to the drama by releasing a statement dismissing ‘abduction’ claims from his daughter.

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Uttar Pradesh will go to poll in seven phases to elect 403 MLAs between February 10 and March 7. The counting of votes will be held on March 10.