Bahujan Samaj Party MP Jugal Kishore today joined BJP, a move the saffron party claims will help it woo crucial Dalit voters in Uttar Pradesh, which will go to the polls early next year.
At Kishore's joining ceremony, state BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai said he would help connect the Scheduled Castes with the party and added he had played an important role in building the organisational strength of BSP.
He said Kishore's joining on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti was the beginning of the party's campaign for the UP assembly elections and it was its "gift" to Mayawati on her birthday, which falls today.
Kishore, a founder BSP member who comes from the Dalit community, accused BSP supremo Mayawati of "selling" Dalit votes and insisted that it was BJP which is working to fulfil the aspirations of the community.
"She is no longer a 'Dalit ke beti' (Dalit's daughter). She has become a 'daulat ki beti' (Daughter of wealth). She is selling the votes of Dalits," he said.
The Rajya Sabha MP said he had been with BSP since the days of its forerunner BS4 (Bharti Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Sanghathan), which was founded by Kanshi Ram before he launched BSP, but it had deviated from his principles under Mayawati.
BJP leader Om Prakash Mathur, who is its UP in-charge, said the people of UP have decided to vote the party in a same way they did in the Lok Sabha elections.
"We were waiting for the auspicious Makar Sankranti and from now onwards every day different leaders will join the party in the state," he said.
Kishore lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah and claimed that RSS wanted to uplift Dalits.
He had been critical of Mayawati for long. His Rajya Sabha tenure ends in July this year.