LUCKNOW/ MEERUT: As hectic politicking picks up pace ahead of UP polls, Saharanpur in west UP has turned into a political potboiler. The district has witnessed the most number of crossovers by various party ranks, including former UP minister Dharam Singh Saini who switched over to Samajwadi Party on Friday.
The formal induction of Saini, an MLA from Nakur, in SP camp came three days after Congress heavyweight Imran Masood joined the Akhilesh Yadav-led outfit leaving the grand old party faceless in the politically crucial region. It was Saini who defeated Masood twice - in 2012 as a BSP candidate and in 2017 on a BJP ticket. Before that Saini had won the 2002 and 2007 assembly elections from Sarsawa assembly seat in Saharanpur.
According to political analysts, Saini community has sizable presence in Shamli, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar and Noida, and Dharam Singh Saini has influence in around 15 assembly constituencies in the area where Sainis are more than 30,000.
BJP sources said that Saini was holding grudges against BJP after he was made the minister of state (independent charge). During Mayawati's regime between 2007 and 2012, he was a cabinet minister. Sources said that Saini was also close to former UP cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya who raised the banner of revolt against BJP and triggered a flurry of resignations in the saffron camp.
Sources said that if Saini contests from Nakur, Masood might be shifted to the neighboring constituency of Behat where Congress MLA Naresh Saini has defected to BJP. Saini is from the backward class and is said to be popular in his constituency. This is not all. Imran's twin brother Nauman Masood has also left Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD, an ally of SP, to join BSP.