Who is Beni Prasad Verma?
Age: 70 years
Fifth term MP from Gonda Lok Sabha seat
Previous position held Minister of State for Steel. Now promoted to Cabinet rank
* Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma is considered by many as the mentor to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav
* Verma, a socialist leader, started under the tutelage of late Chaudhary Charan Singh
* The ‘Kurmi’ leader was the refined face of SP owing to his superior knowledge of law & parliamentary procedures
* Verma’s downslide in SP began with the failure of his “Kurmi politics”. ‘Kurmis” are estimated to constitute approximately 5% of the backward votes in UP
* Before 2007 assembly elections Verma left the SP to form Samajwadi Kranti Dal
* Yadav’s perceived tilt towards family politics, and flirtations with corporate houses, are said to have been the factors behind the split
* Samajwadi Kranti Dal however, failed to take off with Verma losing from Ayodhya seat
* Ahead of the 2009 polls, Verma joined the Congress.
Trysts with controversy
* In February 2012, during the Uttar Pradesh elections Verma announced a hike in the Muslim quota, daring EC to arrest him
* Six months later, he told a rally at UP’s Barabanki that inflation was actually benefitting the farmers, saying high prices will get farmers better returns
* In October 2012 he said that Salman Khurshid could not have embezzled R71 lakh as it was a very “small amount for a central minister”
* Two months later he courted controversy again by seeking life imprisonment for Afzal Guru
* Verma’s continuance in the Congress is important to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s social engineering formula for Uttar Pradesh.