On Tuesday, SP president Akhilesh Yadav had tweeted his photograph with Mayank and said, “A courtesy meeting with Mayank Joshi.”
श्री मयंक जोशी जी से शिष्टाचार भेंट। https://t.co/SPNPsN3vCh
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) 1645544463000
Sources told TOI that all formalities on Mayank joining SP were complete. “It is clear from the meeting that Mayank has joined SP. The formal announcement will be made in the coming days,” a source said.
The meeting was significant for at least two reasons. It came on the eve of polls to all assembly seats of Lucknow, including Lucknow Cantonment from where Mayank was denied a BJP ticket and, second, it was seen as a signal to the state’s Brahmin community, sections of which are said to be unhappy with the ruling party over their diminished influence.
Mayank had sought a BJP ticket from Lucknow Cantt. Rita, BJP’s Lok Sabha MP from Kanpur, had lobbied for a ticket for her son from Lucknow Cantt seat, arguing that he had been active there since 2009.
Rita had written to BJP president J P Nadda and offered to resign from her Lok Sabha seat in lieu of Mayank getting the assembly ticket from Lucknow Cantt in case the party wished to enforce the rule of giving a ticket to only one person per family. However, she had clarified that she would not quit BJP and would continue working for the party.
By tweeting his photograph with Mayank a day ahead of the fourth phase of polls, Akhilesh sought to embarrass BJP and convey to voters that all was not well with the ruling party and that SP was a better choice for them.
It was also seen as Akhilesh’s bid to woo the Brahmins who are believed to be unhappy with BJP. Rita Bahuguna Joshi is one of the prominent Brahmin leaders of BJP in UP and her son paying a “courtesy call” on BJP’s main challenger is embarrassing for the party governing the state.
Akhilesh may have termed it a “courtesy call” but his party functionaries said Mayank had joined SP.
SP spokesperson Fakhrul Hasan Chaand, in a post on indigenous micro-blogging platform Koo, claimed that his earlier posts on Raj Babbar and Mayank joining the party had proved to be true.
Raj Babbar had quit Congress and rejoined SP on January 28. A day earlier, Chaand had posted on Koo, “A former state president of the Congress, former Samajwadi leader and actor may soon become a Samajwadi again.”
Writing a similar post for Mayank on Koo on January 31, Chaand had said, “Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s son Mayank may join Samajwadi Party today evening. A meeting of prominent SP leaders from Lucknow has been convened at 4 pm.”
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) national spokesperson Rohit Agarwal also claimed on Koo that Mayank had joined SP. He said that hurt by the anti-people policies of BJP, “Mayank Joshi joins the Samajwadi Party”.
Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD is contesting the UP assembly election as a pre-poll alliance partner of SP.