Swami Prasad Maurya, a senior leader and a backward caste face in Uttar Pradesh, has had a testy relationship with political parties, one that has also revolved around the political future of his two children.
As he quit the Bharatiya Janata Party towards the fag end of the state government’s tenure on Tuesday, after serving as a minister for nearly five years, Maurya accused the BJP of being against the backward community. Five years ago, months ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in the state, he had in a similar fashion quit the Bahujan Samaj Party, lodging a sensational charge that BSP supremo Mayawati sold election tickets for anything between Rs 25 lakh to a crore.
Maurya spent a long innings of two decades in the BSP before leaving the side of Mayawati. She made him a minister twice in both her governments, twice the leader of the opposition and also the party’s state president. When Maurya parted ways in 2016, BSP leaders pointed out that the “real reason” was his ambition for the political innings for his children. Both his son and daughter had lost in the assembly elections in 2012 and Maurya was seeking tickets for them and himself in 2017.
Once in the BJP, Maurya got a ticket as well as his son, Utkrisht, but the latter lost the election. Maurya also became a minister with his strong non-Yadav OBC credentials, turning into an asset for the BJP that raked in votes from the community during the elections. In 2019, Maurya was rewarded for this with his daughter Sanghmitra Maurya getting a Lok Sabha ticket from Badaun where she had defeated senior Samajwadi Party leader and Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin, Dharmendra Yadav.
However, Maurya had desired that his daughter get a place in the union council of ministers and his son be accommodated suitably though he had lost as an MLA.
A BJP leader said it was “difficult to please Maurya more and his exit was on the cards for over two months now”. The party may have given tickets to him and his son again, but Maurya had been in touch with Akhilesh Yadav for a while now as the Samajwadi Party supremo is trying to build a larger coalition of OBCs to take on the might of the BJP in UP.
Will this impact the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh? Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya has already tweeted, imploring Swami Prasad Maurya to reconsider his decision with a calm mind, indicating that there is concern in the BJP camp over the narrative being built that the non-Yadav OBCs are moving away from it in these elections. Akhilesh Yadav through this move is challenging chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s claim that this is an “80 vs 20 election”.