Swami Prasad Maurya, an OBC leader in Uttar Pradesh who had recently quit Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday.
The four-time MLA joined the saffron party in presence of BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi and claimed that if he received ample support from the party’s leadership, then it would come to power in the Uttar Pradesh with a strong majority. The assembly polls in the state are due early next year.
Maurya, who was the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly before he left BSP in June, said he was impressed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s work to empower the weaker sections and lashed out at BSP chief Mayawati for turning her party into an “industrial house” and allegedly selling tickets.
His decision to join BJP puts an end to speculation over his next move after he had quit BSP as there were talks that he may join Samajwadi Party and was later approached by other parties as well.
“I have taken an appropriate decision at an appropriate time,” he told a press conference.
Maurya, who is said to enjoy influence with a section of OBC voters belonging to Kushwaha, Maurya, Shakya and Saini communities, also lashed out at “communal forces” for their attempt to divide society, in an apparent criticism of cow vigilantes.
He then praised Modi’s statements over the matter in the last two days.
In a message to his supporters, some of whom remain in BSP, and the BJP leadership, he requested his new party to give due respect to them whenever they join it in the future.
“There are also many MLAs who will join the party,” he said and took names of some former MLAs who joined BJP along with him.
Mayawati, he said, had been marginalising the backwards castes and was likely to give them only 26-27 seats in the 403-seat UP assembly elections.
In the Lok Sabha polls, BJP gave members of the community 29 seats, all of whom won, while BSP gave to only 16, he said.
BSP was a movement under its founder Kanshi Ram but Mayawati has begun selling tickets, Maurya alleged.
“BSP is no longer a political party but an industrial house. It is not only an insult of Baba Sahab Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram but also our Constitution. It will not be an exaggeration to say that it is murder of democracy,” he said, attacking his former leader.
Shah, who left soon after briefly sharing the stage with Maury, did not speak.
UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya said Swami Prasad Maurya’s entry into the party will boost its strength and its mission to winning power in the state is close to reality.