EVEN AS the BSP began its campaign this month for next year’s Assembly elections, the party — which primarily targets Dalits and backward caste communities — has decided to elevate the stature of former minister Ramveer Upadhyay by assigning him the responsibility to woo Brahmin voters in west UP.
The four-time BSP MLA from Sikandra Rao seat of Hathras is also being recommended for the post of the chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the state Assembly, which is currently lying vacant after Nakur MLA Dharm Singh Saini defected from the BSP and joined BJP this week, party sources said.
The party has directed Upadhyay to lead rallies in all the reserved constituencies in west UP’s Agra, Aligarh, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Meerut and Bareilly divisions, a role akin to party general secretary Satish Chandra Misra.
Regarded as BSP’s Brahmin face, Misra will lead the campaign in Bundelkhand, eastern and central UP. He had previously led rallies in reserved constituencies as well as those having Brahmin candidates across the state ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
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Talking to The Sunday Express, Upadhyay said he will soon finalise his schedule and begin the rallies. Downplaying the idea of him becoming the sole campaigner of the party among Brahmins in west UP, he said: “I had also campaigned in earlier elections. We did it unitedly then. We will do it together this time too.”
Upadhyay and his family have a long association with the BSP, going back to the days when the party had not fully embraced upper-castes into its fold. While he was first elected as an MLA on a BSP ticket in 1996, his wife Seema was an MP from Agra’s Fatehpur Sikri seat in 2009. His brother Mukul, who unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Ghaziabad seat, is running from Shikarpur seat of Bulandshahr in the coming Assembly polls. Upadhyay served as Energy Minister in the previous Mayawati government, and was appointed the party’s chief whip after 2012 Assembly elections.
Upadhyay’s supporters believed that having been one of the first Brahmin MLA and minister of the party, the elevation in his status was long overdue.
For 2017 poll campaign, Mayawati has chosen a diverse group of leaders from upper castes, OBCs and Muslim community to garner support for the party, instead of banking on one leader. Her decision is a result of defection of prominent party leaders such as former BSP general secretary Swami Prasad Maurya, and former MP Brajesh Pathak, to the BJP over the past two months.
While Maurya was seen as the OBC face of the party, Pathak was a key Brahmin face and considered a close aide of Misra.