Keshav Prasad Maurya was once a chaiwallah and a newspaper vendor before he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
And much like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also sold tea in his home state Gujarat to support his family, Maurya’s rise to the top in the state’s politics is nothing short of phenomenon.
On Saturday, Maurya, 48, was picked as one of the two deputy chief ministers of the state, a post seen as a reward for his tireless work as the state BJP chief to expand the party’s reach. Maurya is credited as much as Modi and party president Amit Shah in scripting the BJP sweep in the recently-held assembly polls.
Maurya and the other deputy CM Dinesh Sharma will assist chief minister Yogi Adityanath in running the state.
Before the 2012 assembly elections, when he won from Sirathu constituency, Maurya was a humble BJP worker who was close to Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) patron late Ashok Singhal.
Born in 1967 at village Kasiya of Sirathu in Kausambhi district, adjoining Allahabad, Maurya went on to study Hindi literature at the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan in Allahabad.
It was during during his initial days at Sirathu and Allahabad, when he supported his family by working as a tea and newspaper vendor.
Maurya’s father Shyam Lal ran a tea stall in Sirathu, Kaushambi where Keshav too made and sold tea to customers. After shifting to Allahabad also he sold tea in Alopibagh locality besides also working as a newspaper hawker to make ends meet.
Years later, he became the BJP’s convener in the Kashi region, Modi’s parliamentary constituency.
As RSS member, Maurya also participated in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. During his 12-year association with the VHP and Bajrang Dal, he held various posts such as VHP Pranth Sanghathan Mantri among others.
In the BJP, Maurya served as Kashi Pranth coordinator of the backward class cell and the BJP Kisan Morcha’s general secretary.
In 2007, Keshav contested the assembly election from Allahabad West seat on BJP ticket but came third behind winner Pooja Pal of BSP and the runner-up Khalid Azim alias Ashraf of SP.
However, Maurya saw a dramatic rise within the BJP after becoming a first-time MLA from Sirathu defeating BSP’s Anand Mohan.
Within two years, he took up the challenge to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Allahabad’s Phulpur parliamentary constituency which BJP had never won. He emerged victorious, bagging this former seat of the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.
He was seen as the only BJP leader, after former UP chief minister and present governor of Rajasthan Kalyan Singh, to enjoy considerable support among the OBCs and Dalits, who were not considered traditional supporters of the party.
In April 2016, Maurya was declared the party’s state chief by BJP president Amit Shah.
Maurya today has assets worth crores in his and his wife’s name. He owns a petrol pump, a hospital, an agro-trading company and Kamdhenu Logistics. He has assets spread across Allahabad and Kaushambi. He also runs Kamdhenu Charitable Society.