Ahead of polls, BJP loses a UP minister and four MLAs to Samajwadi Party

Alarmed by the exodus, Amit Shah is believed to have told Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya to convince Swami Prasad Maurya and his supporters to come back

Akhilesh Yadav sent a tweet to welcome Swami Prasad Maurya into the party. Pic: Twitter

The BJP in Uttar Pradesh suffered a setback on Tuesday (January 11) when one of its top OBC leaders and a minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, Swami Prasad Maurya, quit the party and joined hands with Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party.

Following Maurya’s exit, four more BJP MLAs –  Roshan Lal Verma, Brijesh Prajapati, Bhagwati Sagar and Vinay Shakya – announced their resignations during the day.

Verma is a three-time MLA from Tilhar; Prajapati represents Tindwari; Sagar is an MLA from Bilhaur while Shakya is from Bidhuna.

It is said that Swami Prasad Maurya has been unhappy with CM Yogi Adityanath for some time now. He reportedly spoke with Union Home Minister Amit Shah about it a few months back, but nothing changed.

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Alarmed by the mass exodus, Amit Shah is believed to have told Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya to convince Swami Prasad Maurya and his supporters to come back.

Earlier in the day, Akhilesh Yadav sent a tweet to welcome Maurya. “Warm welcome and greetings to the popular leader Shri Swami Prasad Maurya Ji, who fought for social justice and equality and all the other leaders, workers and supporters who came with him in SP,” tweeted Yadav.

Maurya said in his resignation letter: “I have worked in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet with complete dedication. But oppression of Dalits, OBCs, farmers, unemployed and small businessmen is unacceptable to me. Therefore, I am putting in my resignation.”

Maurya is an influential OBC (Other Backward Class) leader. Before joining the BJP in 2016, Maurya was an MLA with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. Verma, Prajapati and Sagar too have followed the same path– from BSP to BJP to SP.

Speaking to NDTV, Maurya said, “Until I quit the BSP, it was the no 1 party in UP. Now it is nowhere. When I joined the BJP, it came out of 14 years of “banwaas (exile)” and formed a majority government.”

Also read: Yogi’s history: ‘Great’ Chandragupta routed Alexander [but there was no such war]

Currently, Maurya is the BJP MLA from Padrauna in eastern Uttar Pradesh. His daughter, Sanghamitra, is a BJP MP from UP.

NCP supremo, Sharad Pawar, who announced a joint campaign with Akhilesh Yadav in UP, said in Mumbai, “UP is in for a massive change. Today Maurya has resigned and 13 MLAs are going with him. In the coming days you will see more people will quit.”

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya tried to do some fire fighting. “I don’t know why Swami Prasad Maurya quit but I appeal to him, don’t quit but let us talk. Decisions taken in haste can backfire,” he tweeted.

Swami Prasad Maurya responded to the Deputy CM’s appeal by accusing the BJP of working against the people. “I expressed dissent at appropriate platforms but my voice was never heard. The result is I have had to resign,” he said.

“Why did Mr (Keshav Prasad) Maurya not think of this earlier? Why is he remembering me today? Right now everyone will talk but when a dialogue was needed, they did not have time,” the outgoing BJP leader said.

India’s most populous state will go to polls in seven phases starting February 10. Counting of votes will be held on March 10.

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