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UP Elections: Flood of Resignations in BJP; Swami Prasad Maurya, More Sitting MLAs May Join SP

From BSP to BJP to SP, the 5-time MLA cited “neglect” of dalits, farmers, youth” for quitting BJP and was a popular OBC face in Yogi Adityanath government.
UP assembly

Lucknow: Tuesday was a day of one of the biggest blows for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Assembly polls beginning February 10 in caste-ridden Uttar Pradesh. The day saw senior leader and state minister Swami Prasad Maurya submitting his resignation as Minister of Labour, Employment, Coordination from Yogi Adityanath-led cabinet on Tuesday evening. In his resignation letter addressed to Governor Anandiben Patel, Maurya cited the “neglect” of OBCs (Other Backward Classes), dalits, farmers and youths” as the reason behind his move. Later, four more MLAs also announced their resignation.

“I worked with dedication in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet despite a conflicting ideology and circumstances. I resign from the Yogi cabinet of Uttar Pradesh due to the grossly neglectful attitude towards Dalits, OBCs, farmers, unemployed youth and small, and medium businessmen," Maurya, a five-term MLA, tweeted along with his resignation letter.

Along with Maurya, seven more BJP MLAs, including Roshan Lal Verma, Bhagwati Sagar, Brijesh Prajapati, Mamtesh Shakya, Vinay Shakya, Dharmendra Shakya and Neeraj Maurya may also quit, as they had gone to Raj Bhavan with Maurya. Verma is slated to join SP, as per media reports.

Soon after Maurya submitted his resignation letter to the Governor, he met Samajwadi Party (SP) Akhilesh Yadav . The former chief minister, in a tweet, welcomed him and also accorded a “warm welcome” to all other leaders, workers and supporters of Maurya who, Yadav said, had joined the SP along with Maurya. He said he was welcoming a leader who fights for “social justice and equality." “Samajik nyay ka inquilab hoga, baees mein badlav hoga (There will be a revolution of social justice, there will be a change in 2022],” SP chief tweeted sharing a picture with Maurya.

“You will see my resignation’s impact when results of 2022 polls are announced on March 10. There are not just five-seven persons who are joining SP, there are a bunch of MLAs who will leave BJP in the coming week," Maurya told the media in Lucknow.

Maurya is a five-time MLA and a sitting legislator from Padrauna in Kushinagar district in Purvanchal. His daughter, Sanghamitra,  is a sitting BJP MP from Badaun, who defeated SP’s Dharmendra Yadav. He had joined BJP in 2016 after quitting the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

While Maurya’s resignation has sent shock waves within BJP, with Maurya’s daughter, a BJP MP, even denying that her father had joined BJP, the mood was upbeat in SP.

Welcoming the development, Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, SP spokesperson, told Newsclick: “His joining will give more energy to our campaign for 2022. The fight for social justice will be more strengthened. BJP is a sinking ship. The Yogi government is a total failure on all fronts. More people from BJP would join SP soon. People of Uttar Pradesh are reposing faith in the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav.”

Political observers believe Maurya’s resignation is significant and will boost the morale of Akhilesh Yadav, who has already sealed alliances with multiple regional caste-based political parties.

“Maurya's departure is a huge jolt for the ruling BJP as he is a popular OBC face. Akhilesh’s alliance with caste- based political parties is proving to be meaningful, as opposed to Yogi’s communal politics. From the mid-1980s through the 1990s, UP politics revolved around "Mandal" (caste) and "Kamandal" (religion) under Mulayam Singh Yadav. Akhilesh is doing the same, though the scenario has completely changed from Mandal and Kamandal to communal, hate speeches etc.,” Sharat Pradhan, a senior journalist and political expert, told NewsClick.

Satish Pandey, a professor of political science in Purvanchal, sadi :”Though Swami Prasad Maurya is an MLA from Padrauna in Kushinagar, his influence is believed to extend to Unchahar, Shahjahanpur and Badaun in Rae Bareli, from where his daughter Sanghamitra Maurya is a Lok Sabha MP. After Yadavs  and Kurmis, Mauryas are said to be the third largest caste bloc among OBCs. Among them there are surnames like Kachi, Maurya, Kushwaha, Saini and Shakya. The Maurya population is said to be around 6% in UP. In such a situation, more than 90 seats can be affected.”

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