India

Samajwadi Party leader Neeraj Shekhar quits Rajya Sabha, stirs talk of BJP switch

Samajwadi Party leader Neeraj Shekhar quits Rajya Sabha, stirs talk of BJP switch

Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Neeraj Shekhar on Monday resigned as a member of Rajya Sabha and his resignation was accepted by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. Fifty-year-old Shekhar, son of former Prime Minister and socialist leader Chandra Shekhar, was sent to the Upper House by the SP after he lost the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Ballia. The resignation has triggered speculation that Shekhar may join the BJP.

A two-time Lok Sabha MP, Shekhar was first elected to the Lower House in a by-election in Ballia in 2007 after his father’s death. He retained the seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Following his defeat in the 2014 parliamentary polls, the SP chose him for a Rajya Sabha berth. Shekhar’s term in the Upper House was to expire in November 2020.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the SP got the Ballia seat as part of its seat-sharing arrangement with the BSP, but decided to field former MLA Sanatan Pandey who eventually lost. Sources said Shekhar had been feeling sidelined after being overlooked for the Ballia ticket.

Responding to the development, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said, “It is unfair on Shekhar’s behalf to take such a step. The SP sent him to Rajya Sabha even when he lost the Lok Sabha polls. He should have stuck to some political morals and values.”

Rule 213 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha says that if a member chooses to resign, he shall say so in writing in his hand and convey it to the Chairman and if the Chairman is convinced of the genuineness of the resignation she/he may accept it immediately.

When Shekhar met Naidu, the latter asked him if the resignation was voluntary and if he would like to rethink. Shekhar, according to sources, said he was resigning voluntarily and would not want to rethink on the matter. Accordingly, under the provisions of the Rajya Sabha Rules, the Chairman accepted the resignation.