Swami Prasad Maurya’s resignation as general secretary of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after accusing BSP chief Mayawati of “deceiving” Dalits and “auctioning” party tickets for the elections, has sparked speculation about which party he will join, barely eight months before crucial assembly elections take place.
While Maurya has said that he will decide his future course of action after consulting his supporters, the signals he has sent out and political wisdom suggest he is likely to opt for the Samajwadi Party.
On Wednesday, Maurya had alleged that Mayawati was working in cahoots with the BJP. He claimed she is deliberately neglecting OBCs because she wants them to support the BJP. Soon after launching the unexpected attack on the BSP chief, Maurya was seen sharing a laugh with senior SP leader and cabinet minister Azam Khan in the state assembly premises.
If Maurya joins the SP it will fit into the party’s plans to attract all OBC castes to counter the claim that the party caters to only Yadavs. SP leaders have been working towards this for some time — the re-entry of Beni Prasad Verma, a Kurmi leader, into the party and stronger ties with Ajit Singh, a Jat leader, are both indications of this strategy.
With Maurya’s help, the SP will be able to make inroads into the Kushwahas – Maurya’s caste — one of the numerically most significant OBC groups in UP, as the party does not have any leader from this caste group of such stature.
Maurya’s entry will also help the SP in its attempt to ward off serious setbacks in its strongholds of Etawah, Mainpuri, Badaun and Kannauj, where the Mauryas, also known as Shakya there, are the second most numerically influential group after the Yadavs. The SP will try to weaken the BJP’s and the BSP’s efforts to consolidate the Kushwaha-Maurya votes along with other non-Yadav castes in this region.
Maurya, the leader of the opposition in the assembly, shares a good personal rapport with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav whom he supported several times on the contentious issue of the new Lokayukta’s selection. On Thursday, Akhilesh also said that Maurya was “a right person in the wrong party”.
The BJP has already declared Keshav Prasad Maurya as state president. So Swami Prasad Maurya will not get the importance he seeks there. His image of an Ambedkarite and an opponent of Hindu caste system will also make SP a better choice for him than the BJP.
Like many previous BSP leaders who have joined other parties, he could begin the transition by first having his son and daughter join the party. Or, as an announcement of the assembly elections is just six months away, Maurya could resign as an MLA, in order to establish himself and his daughter and son in the other party and seek seats for all three of them.