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.
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.”
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.