A vocal critic of the Modi government and a 'miffed' Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal, who was denied yet another term in the Upper House, on Monday joined the BJP saying his decision was "unconditional" and maintained that like many of his caste people, he has come to 'his original place".
"Most of my community people are already with the BJP.....that way I have come to my original place,' Agrawal told reporters after joining the saffron party in the presence of BJP leaders including Piyush Goyal, Gaurav Bhatia and Sambit Patra at the new party headquarters here.
According to sources, Agrawal's legislator son Nitin Agrawal, now Samajwadi MLA from Hardoi, may also move towards saffron party. In fact, BJP leaders indicate that some of the Samajwadi Party legislators may even indulge in cross voting during March 23 biennial Rajya Sabha polls.
"I have realised that one cannot make full use of the potential and serve the entire country without joining a national party," said Agrawal, trying to justify his switch over to the BJP - a party he has been attacking on various issues including on major decisions like demonetisation.
"Agrawal joins BJP with his team. His contribution will go a long way in strengthening the party. Our party has maintained a winning spree all along, we won in north east and our next target is Karnataka," Railway Minister Goyal told reporters.
Sounding his displeasure on being denied ticket for the Rajya Sabha by the Samajwadi Party leadership, Agrawal said "I am most grateful to Mulayam Singh Yadav and others. But I do not approve of the manner, my contribution to Samajwadi Party was compared with that of a film star - someone who dances or performs a role in films," clearly directing his displeasure on Samajwadi Party's decision to field Jaya Bachchan for polls to the Upper House.
"I will always be with Mulayamji and Ram Gopalji. They gave me lots of respect. But the way the SP is looking like a small ally, sometimes with Congress, sometimes with BSP... I do not approve the way the Samajwadi Party is being ended," he said.
"I am impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's performance," said 66-year-old Agrawal and also lauded party president Amit Shah for the development works and BJP's growth in recent years.
"I am influenced by Prime Minister Modi and also UP CM Yogi Adityanath...The way the government is working, whether it be in India or abroad, and the way BJP is capturing the states, it's clear that the people are with them under the leadership of Prime Minister," he said.
"My decision to join BJP is unconditional. I am not seeking anything, Rajya Sabha berth or something," he said.
Welcoming him Mr Goyal said Agrawal will be working in different states apart from Uttar Pradesh.
BJP leaders did not entertain any question on the occasion but BJP spokesman Sambit Patra remarked that the saffron party has high respect for all including those who work in films.
Mr Agrawal joins the BJP at a time when strong Uttar Pradesh player BSP chief Mayawati has associated herself with JD(S) of H D Deve Gowda and will be contesting in ensuing Karnataka polls.
The Samajwadi Party will be biggest loser after March 23 Rajya Sabha polls. Kiranmayee Nanda, Darshan Singh Yadav, Naresh Agarwal, Jaya Bachchan, Munawwar Saleem and Alok Tiwari are the six Rajya Sabha MPs of the Samajwadi Party who are retiring. The SP, which has only 47 MLAs now in UP will be able to send only one candidate to Parliament.
As per political parleys with BSP, the Samajwadi Party's "nine additional votes" will be given to Mayawati's party.
Naresh Agrawal was a MLA for seven terms from 1980 to 2012 from Hardoi except 1985 to 1989. In late eighties, he was also associated with the Congress party.
This will not be Mr Agrawal's first association with BJP as in 1997 he had floated Akhil Bhartiya Loktantrik Congress Party along with Jagdambika Pal and others and "saved" Kalyan Singh-led BJP government during a crucial trial of strength.
At later stage, he served under the Chief Ministers Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh as UP Power Minister.
He was also Minister of Tourism in Mulayam Singh Yadav Government from 2003 to 2004. He was elected to Rajya Sabha in March 2010 and resigned in March 2012. He was elected again in 2012 on SP ticket. (UNI)