Top BJP leaders from Uttar Pradesh, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, met Aparna soon after she had joined the party at the Delhi headquarters. The 32-year-old, who contested and lost in 2017 to the BJP’s Rita Bahuguna Joshi from Lucknow Cantt, is expected to get a BJP ticket in the coming polls. In a statement, BJP Uttar Pradesh chief Swatantra Dev Singh said: “We welcome SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter in law, Aparna, to the BJP.”
The wife of Mulayam Singh’s younger son Prateek Yadav, Aparna has often praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies. On Wednesday, she said she was joining the BJP “to fulfill my duties to the country” and for her, it was always “nation first”. “I have always been inspired by Prime Minister Modi… I now want to try and do better for the country. I have been impressed by the schemes of the BJP and I will do my best in the party,” she said, listing measures for cleanliness and women empowerment as among those that had influenced her.
Reacting to the development, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said he was happy that “the party’s socialist ideology is spreading”. He also claimed that Mulayam Singh had tried hard to convince Aparna to not take the step.
Asked if the SP had denied a ticket to Aparna, Akhilesh said: “All the tickets have not been distributed yet, and who gets tickets and who doesn’t depends on region and people and our internal surveys… I would like to congratulate the BJP that they are giving tickets to people who can’t get tickets from us while our Samajwadi ideology is expanding.”
Extending his best wishes and congratulations to Aparna, Akhilesh said: “I hope that our ideology will reach there (the BJP) and work to save the Constitution and democracy.”
Asked if efforts had been made to stop Aparna, he said: “Netaji (Mulayam Singh) tried very hard to convince her.”
Akhilesh is Mulayam Singh’s son from his first marriage, and Prateek from his second wife. A social worker who runs an organisation for women, Aparna has often been at loggerheads with the family over her political ambitions, and speculation had been rife about her crossing over to the BJP. Prateek was not present at the event in Delhi on Wednesday, where Aparna joined the BJP in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and Swatantra Dev. The high-profile event was a testament to the BJP’s efforts to seize on Aparna’s move as an embarrassment to the SP leadership, even though she does not carry much political weight.
Attacking Akhilesh, Maurya said: “He has not been able to take care of his family, state or party, nor could he do justice to the state or his Lok Sabha membership.”
Swatandra Dev said areas of UP going for polls in the first phase had suffered under the 2012-2017 Akhilesh government. “Because of the SP’s goondakardi, no daughter or son of a farmer could live in peace. If there was an issue and if you approached police, they would get a call from a Miajaan. It was Azam Khan who ruled the state then and there was an atmosphere of terror. But under the BJP, people have seen good governance. Aparna Yadav is influenced by this good governance.”
The BJP leaders also questioned why Akhilesh was not contesting Assembly elections, and asked if he could not find a seat. Maurya pointed out that the BJP had already announced constituencies for both him and CM Adityanath.
At his press conference in Lucknow, Akhilesh said he would decide on contesting after consulting the people of his parliamentary constituency, Azamgarh. “If I contest the Assembly election, it will be after taking the permission of the people who elected me as MP,” he told reporters.