‘Who Is He To Make Me CM?’, Mayawati Responds To Swami Prasad Maurya’s Salvos; Still No Clarity From SP About Giving Ticket To Latter’s Son
Maurya, while addressing the public after joining the SP, criticised not just the BJP, but also BSP supremo Mayawati.
Former Uttar Pradesh Minister Swami Prasad Maurya resigned from the BJP on 11 January, ahead of the UP 2022 Assembly elections due next month. He joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Friday (14 January). Maurya, who was once in the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), is considered to be a senior leader of the backward castes.
In his resignation letter, Maurya listed “negligent attitude towards Dalits, backwards, farmers, unemployed youth, small and medium businessmen” as the reason for his departure.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav shared a with a photo of himself and Maurya saying: "Warm welcome and greetings to the popular leader who fights for equality and social justice, Swami Prasad Maurya ji and other leaders and workers who have accompanied him to the SP. There will be a revolution for social justice, there will be change in 2022".
Maurya’s defection to the SP has triggered a political war of words. No political party is shying away from airing its opinion on this development which is being seen by many as a tectonic shift in the underlying social arithmetic that defines the BJP and the SP’s OBC vote bank.
Maurya furthers “Agda v/s Pichhda” narrative
Maurya, while addressing the public after joining the SP, hurled caustic barbs not only against the BJP, but also against BSP supremo Mayawati.
“Today, the top leaders of the BJP, who were sleeping like Kumbhakarna, have lost their sleep after our (Maurya and his supporters’) resignations. Along with this, some people of BJP say that why I did not resign for five years and unscrupulous ones even say that I left the BJP for my son’s interest. I want to tell such people that the BJP grabbed power by throwing dust in the eyes of the poor, downtrodden, dalits, backward and minorities of this country.” Maurya further said, 'Even though I have not formed a party, I am not less than any party.'
Maurya messaging had a clear indication that he is trying to make the election a contest between the ‘forwards’ (agda) and the ‘backwards’ (pichhda). Maurya said, “This BJP came to power by luring the backwards using the names of Keshav Prasad Maurya and Swami Prasad Maurya. The BJP had discussed whether Swami Prasad Maurya or Keshav Prasad would be the CM. But this did not happen, they brought a leader from Gorakhpur and made him the CM, and thus ditched the backwards. Today it is the minorities and the backwards who form the government, but it is the 5 per cent ‘forwards’ who enjoy the fruit.”
In response to CM Adityanath’s statement, Swami Prasad Maurya said that the fight is not of ‘80 vs 20’ but of ‘85 vs 15’. We say that 85 per cent is ours, and we have our share in the remaining 15 per cent as well.
“No one knows their (BSP’s) whereabouts”
Maurya didn’t stop at the BJP and attacked BSP chief Mayawati as well. Maurya, who was once a close confidant of Mayawati, said, “Whoever’s side we leave, they are doomed. Mayawati is a living example of this…She has deviated from Ambedkar's mission. The slogan of Honourable Kanshi Ram was changed as soon as he closed his eyes. Behen Mayawati changed his slogan 'jiski jitni bhagidari, utni uski hissedari' (as is one’s participation, so is their share) to ‘jiski jitni taiyyari, utni uski bhagidari’ (as is one’s preparation, so is their share). I opposed it, but she didn’t agree. Today, no one knows their whereabouts.”
Mayawati gave it back
BSP chief Mayawati, on Saturday (15 January), while talking to the media on the occasion of her birthday, responded to Maurya’s criticism directed at her and said that there is an urgent need to make strict rules against those who change parties just before the elections.
“Who is he to make me the chief minister? His own fortune turned only after he joined the BSP. He has been in numerous parties, be it Janata Dal or the Lok Dal, he never won an election. It was only when he joined the BSP that he became an MLA. All his empty talk is useless…,” said the BSP supremo.
She further said that “some turncoat leaders (Maurya and his supporters) were shouting that the SP is an ‘Ambedkarite' party. This claim does not even have an iota of truth in it. It was the SP that had torn apart the bill regarding the promotion of Dalits, and it is still pending. Many districts were named after Dalit saints and public welfare schemes were started in their name, but the SP government overturned that too.”
Mayawati, celebrating her 66th birthday as ‘People’s Welfare Day’, reiterated that her party is working on Babasaheb Ambedkar’s ideal of “taking together all sections of the society”, and claimed that she is assured of winning an “absolute majority” in the upcoming assembly polls.
Could Maurya prove to be a formidable asset for the SP?
Many are of the view that Maurya being a prominent face in the politics surrounding the other backward castes (OBCs) in the state could prove to be a formidable fit in Akhilesh Yadav’s strategy of forming a larger coalition of the OBCs, under which he has already taken along leaders such as Om Prakash Rajbhar, Lalji Verma, Ram Prasad Chaudhary, Raja Ram Pal and others.
However, Maurya’s reason for joining the SP could be different. Reportedly, he had been demanding a ticket for his son from the Unchahar seat and that was the ‘real reason’ behind his exit from the BJP. His son had already lost that seat twice to SP’s Manoj Pandey. In case of an intra-party confrontation on the ticket from the Unchahar seat, it is highly likely that Pandey might rebel against the SP if his ticket is cancelled. It is being said that BJP already is waiting for the moment.
In such a situation, it would be interesting to see as to how the SP leadership would be able to assuage both Maurya and Pandey. As per some reports, the SP has offered the Phaphamau (Prayagraj) seat to Maurya’s son. But if Maurya is ready to settle for a seat other than Unchahar, it is only imperative to ask why he left the BJP in the first place, which may have also considered providing him some other seat.
The ‘real’ reason behind Maurya’s exit
Earlier, in 2016, when Maurya left the BSP in a similar fashion, the party leadership alleged that the “real reason” behind his resignation was his ambition to establish his children and other relatives into politics. In 2016, numerous reports suggested that Maurya was being “too demanding” as his demand for tickets was not only restricted to himself, his son (Utkrist Maurya) and his daughter (Sanghamitra Maurya). He also wanted tickets for his son-in-law (Nawal Kishore) and for his public relations officer (Pramod Maurya), who also happened to be his nephew.
In 2012 UP Assembly polls, both Utkrist and Sanghamitra contested on a BSP ticket from Unchahar (Raebareli) and Aliganj (Etah) assembly seats respectively. However, both of them lost their respective seats. After the family joined the BJP ahead of the UP 2017 assembly polls, Utkrist again contested the 2017 assembly polls from the Unchahar assembly seat and lost the elections, but this time on a BJP ticket. In the 2019 parliamentary elections, Sanghamitra however, did become an MP from the Badaun district in UP.
“It was difficult to please Maurya more and his exit was on the cards for over two months now”, a senior BJP leader was quoted as saying by News18.
Who is Swami Prasad Maurya?
Maurya, before his resignation, held the office of Minister of Labour, Employment and Coordination in the UP government. Maurya is a five-time MLA, and currently holds the Padrauna assembly seat of Kushinagar district in UP. Other than the BJP and the BSP, Maurya has also been a member of the Lok Dal.
Before the 2017 UP Assembly Elections, Maurya joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on 8 August 2016. Before leaving the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Maurya served the party for over two decades and was made minister twice in both terms of the Mayawati government. He was also made the party’s state president and was also the Leader of Opposition in the UP Vidhan Sabha from 2012 to 2016.
Maurya exercised considerable influence among the non-Yadav OBCs, and has been successful in raking in votes from his community. Maurya’s sway among the OBC voters is said to transcend his assembly seat, and he is seen as a prominent leader of the backward castes throughout the state.
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