Lucknow: To set the equations right in their constituencies in view of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections early next year, many political leaders in the state have bid good bye to their parties and switched over to rival sides to ensure that they get tickets.

The 'party-hopping' trend started in May when sitting BSP MLA from Masauli in Barabanki district Fareed Mahfooz Kidwai joined SP.

Since then, there has been competition between the two rival parties as three more BSP MLAs joined SP while seven SP MLAs became members of the ruling party. Three BJP leaders have also joined the main Opposition party.

Last month, BSP MLAs-Sher Bahadur Singh from Jalalpur (Ambedkar Nagar) and Krishna Kumar Singh alias Satish Verma from Mallawan (Hardoi) joined SP which also announced tickets to them. Another tainted BSP MLA from Dibai Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit also joined SP.

Two BJP MLAs-Yashwant Singh Chauhan (Sikandarau) and Rajedra Singh (Fatehabad) and former MLA and state secretary of BJP Gomti Yadav also joined SP, which claims that its popularity was on the rise among people as it was the only party which took to the streets against the Mayawati government's "misrule".

"They were fed-up with the misrule of BSP government that is why they came to the SP. The party will be strengthened by their joining," SP state president Akhilesh Yadav said while announcing party tickets to the former BSP members.

However, BSP claims that SP has readily accepted the members to botch the present regime's prospects, disregarding the fact that they do not have clean records.

"All the four MLAs were not working as per the ideologies of the parties and had joined SP as they were denied party (BSP) tickets. They were already suspended as there were a lot of complaints against them from their respective constituencies," a BSP spokesman said.

In a bid to check leaders leaving the party, BSP supremo Mayawati has assured that she will try to accommodate all the sitting MLAs and the left outs will be "compensated" suitably after the elections. Though BSP has not officially declared its list of candidates for the Assembly elections, its MLAs, sceptical of their chances, are changing sides for assured tickets.

Congress is not far behind in the list of party-hoppers' favourites. Party leader Digvijay Singh recently claimed in Pratapgarh that a large number of BSP leaders are touch with the party and could join it soon. His claims came after BSP leader and former MLC Siraj Mehdi, who had earlier left Congress with party leader and former minister Akhilesh Das to join BSP, again came to the party's fold.

BJP is also trying to woo Opposition leaders to show its strength and likening among the people.

Though no MLA has joined BJP yet, the party, with an aim to score over its rival, succeeded in getting BSP leader and former MP Padam Singh Chowhury in its fold last month.

After three of its MLA switched sides, the ruling BSP also swung into action and succeeded in getting seven SP MLAs-- Sandhya Kathariya Kishni (Mainpuri), Ashok Chandel (Hamirpur), Sarvesh Singh Seepu (Azamgarh), Sandeep Agarwal (Moradabad), Surendra Singh Lod (Unnao), Suraj Singh Shakya (Unnao) and Sultan Beg (Bareilly) -- in the party fold.

"Abhi to shuruat hai..aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya. (This is the beginning see what happens next)," BSP leader and Minister Swami Prasad Maurya said, claiming that more Opposition leaders will join the party in the days to come.

SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury said BSP was "enacting a drama" by accepting those leaders who were already removed from the party or denied tickets.

"Ashok Chandel, Sarvesh Kumar Singh, Sandeep Agarwal and Sunderlal Lodhi are not in the party, they had been suspended after they left with Amar Singh," he said.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the BSP had fielded about 50 per cent turncoats on total 80 seats, but only two of them won. Similar was the case with SP, BJP and Congress which also gave 20 to 30 per cent tickets to party hoppers.

(Agencies)