BSP supremo Mayawati was quick to write off Keshav Prasad Maurya’s appointment as president of Uttar Pradesh BJP, saying he won’t be able to influence the OBC votes owing to his association with RSS. However, taking no chances, her party is now working on strategies to counter any possible dent that BJP may make in Kushwaha-Maurya community — one of its strongest supporters among the backward castes.
Leading the charge is Swami Prasad Maurya, the BSP general secretary and Leader of Opposition in UP Assembly. Maurya has been attending programmes of caste-based social organisations. He was in Ballia on April 11, to address the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule’s birth anniversary function organised by Mali Vikas Manch, and in Allahabad on April 17 to address the birth anniversary of king Ashok, another icon for the caste.
A few days after Babu Singh Kushwaha, who was a minister in previous Mayawati-led government, held a programme in Banda district, BSP confirmed the name of Madhusudan Kushwaha as party’s candidate from Banda seat. The former minister, an accused in the NRHM scam and currently out on bail, is now running an anti-BSP campaign in UP while seeking to unite Kushwaha-Maurya votebank.
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In 2012 Assembly elections, the party had fielded Dinesh Chandra Shukla from Banda. He had lost.
As many as eight BSP candidates from the Kushwaha-Maurya caste group had won in 2012. This time, sources say, these MLAs are facing a challenge of warding off any impact the new state BJP chief, who has been touring the state since his anointment, may have. This time, they are waiting to see if their caste group will get more tickets or less than the last time.
Swami Prasad Maurya termed Keshav Prasad Maurya “an unknown face for the community”, whom BJP could find after “a long search”.
He said it will take years for Keshav Prasad Maurya to make an impression on the community.
“I am working with this community for 25 years. We organised Kushwaha, Maurya, Saini and Shakya castes socially. Only BSP gave them participation in governance and politics. There were three cabinet ministers from the community in last BSP government and several others held important posts. BSP gave respect to the community and the party is like a home for the community,” Swami Prasad Maurya told The Indian Express.
He said there was no possibility that Keshav could become the chief ministerial candidate of BJP as the party will not give two posts to one person. Maurya said the BSP has given proportional representation to the caste group while distributing tickets for assembly in previous elections.
He said the caste group is one of the most influential OBC sections, politically, because it is scattered all across UP from Gorakhpur to Saharanpur division. “The population of the community is from 12,000 to 75,000 in every Assembly seat and that is why even the ruling Samajwadi Party has now started to give tickets to them. BJP is doing the same,” he said.