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Jolt for Yogi as key Minister Swami Prasad Maurya exits, 3 MLAs say will quit too

Maurya resigned from the cabinet through a letter to Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandi Ben alleging neglect of “Dalits, backwards, farmers, unemployed, youth as well as small traders” in the present government.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
Updated: January 12, 2022 12:55:06 am
Amit Shah, Yogi arrive for B JP meeting in Delhi Tuesday for candidate selection. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

In a jolt to the ruling BJP less than a month before the start of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, OBC leader and five-term MLA Swami Prasad Maurya resigned Tuesday as Minister for Labour and Employment from the Yogi Adityanath government and seemed headed to the rival SP, posing for a photograph with its chief Akhilesh Yadav soon after.

At least three other BJP MLAs — Roshan Lal Verma, Brijesh Prajapati and Bhagwati Prasad Sagar – said they would follow Maurya who indicated that more from the BJP would join him.

Read | BJP’s OBC push takes a hit, Yogi may feel heat as allies press advantage

In his resignation letter to Governor Anandiben Patel, Maurya, who represents the Padrauna constituency in the eastern district of Kushinagar, alleged neglect of “Dalits, backwards, farmers, unemployed and small traders” by the government.

While there was no immediate response from Chief Minister Adityanath, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, in a Twitter post, said: “I am not aware of the reasons for which Swami Prasad Maurya ji has resigned but it is my appeal to him to sit and talk. Decisions taken in a hurry often turn out to be wrong.”

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav with Swami Prasad Maurya. (Twitter/@yadavakhilesh)

Incidentally, it was Roshan Lal Verma who carried Maurya’s resignation letter to the Raj Bhavan. “Hum Maurya ji ke supporter hain, jahan woh jayenge wahan hum bhi jayenge (I am a Maurya supporter, I will go wherever he does),” he said.

Verma, BJP MLA from Tilhar in Shahjahanpur, was earlier the constituency’s BSP MLA but quit the party along with Maurya in 2016. He contested the 2017 elections as the BJP candidate from the same seat and won.

Brijesh Prajapati, MLA from Tindwari in Banda, said: “Swami Prasad Maurya ji is our leader. Since he has sent his resignation letter, I have done it too.”

Bhagwati Prasad Sagar, MLA from Bilhaur in Kanpur Nagar district, said: “We will all go together.” He said they had to “struggle for four-and-half years in our own government”.

Maurya’s move comes as a shot in the arm for the SP which is trying to win over non-Yadav OBCs to bolster its Muslim-Yadav vote base. The non-Yadav OBCs played a key role in the BJP’s sweep of the 2017 elections.

After Maurya’s resignation, Akhilesh Yadav posted a photograph with him on Twitter, welcoming him to the SP fold. “Samajik nyay ka inquilab hoga, Bayis mein badlav hoga (Social justice will triumph, there will be change in 2022),” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Maurya’s daughter Sanghamitra, who is the BJP MP from Badaun, told news agency PTI that her father has resigned but has not joined the SP or any other outfit yet, and that he has told the media he will decide his strategy after two days.

Maurya said it is his decision to quit the party and not that of his daughter or son. “She has her own responsibilities as MP and she will continue to fulfil that. It is my decision alone,” he told reporters.

He said he is a “political person” and will join a political party, and that he would soon share details of those leaving with him.

“I have sent the letter of resignation to the Governor and have cited the reasons for quitting the Cabinet. In the next one or two days, I will speak to my supporters and make it clear who all are coming with me,” he said.

In his resignation letter in Hindi, he said: “I have worked with responsibility and dedication in the Cabinet of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as Labour and Employment Minister even under adverse situations and ideological positions but because of the neglect of Dalits, backwards, farmers, unemployed, youth as well as small traders, I resign from the Cabinet of Uttar Pradesh.”

He told reporters that he tried to raise matters but his concerns were not resolved.

“For long, I raised my issues at appropriate platforms in the party. While I was heard, my issues were not resolved. I have resigned from the anti-Dalit, anti-farmer, anti-youth and anti-trader government,” he said.

He said he had joined the BJP – from BSP — thinking “I will see a changed face” of the party.

“When I joined, the then president of the party, Amit Shah, said I would be given respect according to my personality. The department offered did not matter and I worked with dedication and responsibility as Labour and Employment Minister despite ideological differences,” he said.

Asked about claims that the BJP would win over 300 seats in the Assembly elections, he said: “Now they will know what Swami Prasad Maurya is capable of, the mandate he commands. They will realise my worth when the BJP loses the election.”

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