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To consolidate Thakur votes, BJP woos Raja

In what is being touted as an attempt to consolidate upper caste Thakur votes in favour of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the party’s national president Rajnath Singh is believed to have given a green signal to the entry of controversial former minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya into the party fold.

The fifth-term independent MLA from Kunda in Pratapgarh district had to quit the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet after his name figured in the murder of police officer Zia-ul-Haque, a deputy superintendent of police, posted in his area. Bhaiya was questioned by the CBI in the matter but never arrested due to lack of evidence.

A meeting of Bhaiya with Rajnath Singh was held about a fortnight back and the ‘arrangement of coming together’ was discussed. According to sources, Bhaiya went to Gorakhpur last Sunday to meet local MP Mahant Adityanath. The Mahant is also a Thakur and the two are believed to have discussed ‘how a working arrangement’ could be reached as Bhaiya joining the BJP publicly could invite a lot of criticism.

If an arrangement is reached, the controversial MLA would be the second prominent Thakur leader after Pankaj Shekar, son of former prime minister Chandrashekhar, to jump onto the saffron bandwagon.

Raja Bhaiya’s connections with the BJP is not new. Earlier, he served as minister of programme implementation in the BJP’s Kalyan Singh government in 1997, and was minister in the Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh’s cabinet in 1999 and 2000 respectively.

Bhaiya is said to be very agitated with the ‘pro-Muslim’ stand taken by the Samajwadi Party government during the Muzzafarnagar riots. His late father Raja Uday Pratap Singh was a prominent RSS and VHP functionary.
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