Just a day after polling ended in the Lok Sabha elections, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday sacked Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party leader Om Prakash Rajbhar from the Cabinet for his outbursts against senior National Democratic Alliance partner -- Bharatiya Janata Party.
Governor Ram Naik accepted the recommendation and relieved Rajbhar with immediate effect from his post of Backward Class Welfare and Divyangjan Empowerment Minister, an official spokesperson said.
The CM also recommended to the governor that all other Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party members holding the rank of minister of state be removed immediately.
A recalcitrant Rajbhar appeared before the media soon afterward and "welcomed" the decision of the CM.
"I welcome the decision (to sack me). The decision taken by the chief minister was a delayed one," Rajbhar said. "Had the decision been taken around 20 days ago, it would have been much better."
"By taking the decision, he (Adityanath) has proved he does not endorse my war against poverty," he told reporters, donning his traditional yellow scarf, associated with his party.
The SBSP had won four seats in the 2017 UP assembly elections.
The MoS removed from the post included Rangaram Rajbhar and Virendra Rajbhar, both members of UP Backward Class Commission; Sudama Rajbhar, a member of Uttar Pradesh Pashudhan Vikash Parishad; Arvind Rajbhar, the Chairman Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises department; Rana Ajit Pratap Singh, the Chairman-cum-Director UP Seeds Development Corporation, Sunil Arkwanshi and Radhika Patel, members of National Integration Council.
All of them enjoyed the rank and status of state ministers.
Senior Rajbhar was shown the door for making controversial statements quite often against the saffron party, the latest being during the Lok Sabha election campaign when he said that Bharatiya Janata Party members should be "thrashed" with shoes.
He had recently sent a letter to the chief minister stating that he was resigning from the cabinet.
In Lok Sabha polls, Rajbhar's party fielded candidates from several constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and supported the Congress and the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party candidates on some seats.
Asked about the possibility of going with the BSP-SP-RLD alliance, Rajbhar said he would talk about it later.
Rajbhar expressed strong resentment towards the BJP for not allying with the SBSP in the state in the Lok Sabha polls.
"I was only demanding one seat in the Lok Sabha election. We are a party. And if we do not contest, then what message will we give to our workers and people?" he asked.
On what would be his future strategy, Rajbhar said, "I was born alone, I will walk alone. We will take our views to the people and spread awareness among the backward castes about their rights."
Rajbhar alleged that Adityanath did not have time to implement the recommendations of the social justice committee.
"If Om Prakash Rajbhar speaks about improvement in primary education to the children poor households, then it is bad," he said.
Rajbhar said he used to talk about implementing prohibition in Uttar Pradesh on the lines of Gujarat and Bihar, but claimed that Adiyanath would not endorse it.
Hours after Rajbhar was sacked, the state BJP accused him of shattering the decorum of alliance dharma by continuously speaking against the saffron party despite being its partner.
"The BJP is a party which gives full respect to its allies and honours the coalition dharma. But, it is unfortunate that our alliance partner in UP, Om Prakash Rajbhar, not just violated the decorum of alliance dharma, but shattered it. It is for this reason that the party and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were compelled to take such a strong step," UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey said in a statement.
"He also opposed various policies of the state government," he said.
Pandey said Rajbhar treated the BJP's "decorum" and "tolerance" as its "weakness".
"He not only fielded candidates against the BJP in this Lok Sabha election, but also openly supported candidates of rival political parties. Despite this, we exercised restraint," the BJP leader said.
Pandey said the Rajbhar community has been "deceived" by their leaders and expressed hope that the group would support the BJP.