A close aide of BSP chief Mayawati quit the party on Wednesday in what is being seen as a huge blow to the Dalit leader’s dreams of recapturing power in the state in next year’s assembly polls.
Swami Prasad Maurya, the party’s backward class poster boy, announced his decision in a hurriedly-convened press conference where he accused her of “auctioning” tickets for the assembly polls.
Mayawati, a four-time former chief minister, hit back at Maurya promptly saying he has done a “favour” by leaving the party. Maurya was the national general secretary of the BSP and leader of opposition in the state assembly.
The forthcoming assembly election is being billed as a barometer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity in the country’s most populous state where the BJP won 71 out of 80 seats in the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Maurya was expected to play a major role in the BSP’s aim to oust the Samajwadi Party (SP) and also foil the BJP’s bid to win power in the state.
“I feel suffocated and cannot continue in the party anymore,” Maurya, 62, said adding that Mayawati was “auctioning” poll tickets.
A large number of distressed BSP MLAs are in touch with me and are ready to go wherever I go.”
Though he did not reveal his next move, both the SP and BJP swung into action to woo the MLA from Padrauna.
As soon as Maurya emerged after briefing the media, BJP and SP leaders jostled to welcome him to their side.
While BJP MP Jagdambika Pal greeted Maurya, two senior SP leaders -- Shivpal Singh Yadav and Azam Khan – too rushed out of their assembly chambers to speak to him.
A PTI report said that Maurya could join the ruling SP and might be rewarded with a ministerial berth when chief minister Akhilesh Yadav carries
Speculation is rife in the political circles that Maurya might join SP and could even find a berth in the Akhilesh government when he expands his ministry on June 27 in perhaps the last reshuffle of his council of ministers ahead of the elections. There are four vacancies in the council of ministers.
Mayawati hinted as much pointing out Maurya’s “links” with the SP and described him as a “habitual party-hopper”.
“Earlier, he worked with SP chief Maulayam Singh Yadav in the Lok Dal and the Janata Dal. Mulayam is promoting his family in politics and the same habit has affected Maurya too,” Mayawati told reporters at her official residence.
She said Maurya was insisting on tickets not only for himself but also for his son and daughter.
“He might join SP or BJP which will give ticket to his children in the coming assembly election.”
(With agency inputs)