In a huge setback for Akhilesh Yadav, senior Samajwadi Party leader Neeraj Shekhar on Monday resigned from his Rajya Sabha membership. He submitted his paper to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. The Chairman accepted his resignation, a PTI report said on Monday.
After resigning from the Rajya Sabha, Neeraj, 50, met BJP national president and Home Amit Shah at his residence. Senior BJP leaders Bhupendra Yadav, Anil Baluni and Nishikant Dubey were also present on the occasion.
A first-time Rajya Sabha MP, Neeraj's term in the Upper House was to end in November 2020. He is now likely to join the BJP on Tuesday, tv reports said, adding that there have been discussions between him and BJP leaders since the last two months.
With Neeraj's exit, the Samajwadi Party will be left with 13 members in the 245-member Upper House of the Parliament. Also, Neeraj's resignation will be gain for the ruling BJP which has numbers in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly to win a by-election to this seat when it happens.
Neeraj is Rajput by caste and son of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar. He comes from Ballia in eastern Uttar Pradesh where Thakur caste people have a dominance. He has upset with Akhilesh Yadav for ignoring his claim on Ballia Lok Sabha seat in the general elections held in April-May this year. Neeraj was also opposed to Akhilesh's decision to sign an electoral pact with BSP chief Mayawati for the general elections.
After Chandra Shekhar's death 2007, Neeraj had been contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Ballia as a Samajwadi Party candidate. He won the bypolls held in 2008 and retain the seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. However, when elections were held in 2014, he lost the seat to BJP's Bharat Singh. The Samajwadi Party then sent him to Rajya Sabha. But his demand to contest the general elections this year was rejected by Samajwadi Party's national president Akhilesh Yadav. The SP fielded Sanatan Pandey, a Brahmin by caste, but he lost to BJP's Virendra Singh Mast.
Barring 1984 elections, Chandra Shekhar won from Ballia every time elections were held since 1977. Though Chandra Shekhar was not in Samajwadi Party, former Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav never fielded any candidate against him from Ballia.