Swami Prasad Maurya’s Exit from BSP May Not Hit Behenji’s Fortunes
Electoral compulsions and diminishing influence led to Swami Prasad Maurya’s exit from BSP, writes Sharat Pradhan.
Upheavals are not uncommon in a politically volatile state like Uttar Pradesh. When Swami Prasad Maurya made a loud exit from the BSP, it came as no surprise to those familiar with a party run solely in accordance with its supremo Mayawati’s wishes.
Despite much truth in the accusations and counter-accusations levelled by Maurya and Mayawati last week, the consequent acrimony has not bewildered political analysts. If Maurya was busy lambasting Mayawati as daulat ki beti (daughter of wealth) instead of dalit ki beti (daughter of dalit), Mayawati gave back in equal measure by describing his departure from the party as “good riddance.”
She claimed that Maurya had ceased to be of any good to the party and was busy promoting the interests of his son and daughter for whom he was seeking tickets. Since the son-daughter duo had earlier lost elections, Mayawati refused to oblige them again.
What was bizarre was that while Maurya and Mayawati worked in tandem for nearly two decades, their mutual recriminations indicated that they were blissfully unaware of each other’s antecedents. For sure, the two have blatantly indulged in corrupt practices which led to a rapid rise in their assets, far disproportionate to their known sources of income.
That BSP tickets were always sold for a price was no secret and there was no plausible reason for someone like Maurya to be ignorant about it. He was not only the state BSP president, but also minister in each of Mayawati’s four stints as chief minister.
He was a BSP leader in the UP assembly and the leader of the opposition, which entitled him to a cabinet rank until he decided to quit on 22 January.
The Kushwaha Factor
Maurya had begun to enjoy Mayawati’s confidence after the sacking of Babu Singh Kushwaha whom the BSP supremo not only dropped unceremoniously from her cabinet in 2011, but she also did not come in the way of his arrest for his alleged involvement in the Rs 7,000 crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam. Since Maurya belongs to the Kushwaha community, he virtually stepped into the shoes of Babu Singh who was once Mayawati’s closest confidante. He could not have been unaware of Mayawati’s proclivity for amassing wealth.
The BSP’s most influential general secretary, Satish Chandra Misra, who is said to have Mayawati’s trust, is confident that Maurya’s exit would make no difference to the party ahead of the assembly elections scheduled sometime next year.
Behenji was well aware of Maurya’s shaky loyalty to the party. So she had already identified a couple of younger Mauryas who enjoy far more goodwill than he, to lead the community under the BSP.Satish Chandra Misra, General Secretary, BSP
Tough Times Ahead?
- Months ahead of the UP
polls, Swami Prasad Maurya’s exit from the BSP is the result of bitter
acrimony between party supremo Mayawati and him.
- It is not that Maurya and
Mayawati had no knowledge of each other’s antecedents. Both have indulged in
corrupt practices in the past.
- Indeed, Maurya replaced
Babu Singh Kushwaha, minister in Mayawati’s last cabinet, following allegations
of corruption against the latter.
- But it was Maurya’s
weakening hold over the OBC Kushwaha community that made it easier for Mayawati
to accept his exit.
- That Maurya is a spent
force now was evident when the Samajwadi Party cold-shouldered him.
Ouster was in the Offing
Maurya’s departure from the party was anticipated ever since his son and daughter lost the 2012 assembly and the 2014 polls, respectively. Maurya was not only severely reprimanded but also humiliated publicly by behenji for what she saw as his sharply dipping clout over his own community, which constitutes about 7 percent of the OBC vote in UP.
What made matters worse for Maurya was the appointment of Keshav Prasad Maurya as the BJP state president. Already convinced of Swami Prasad’s poor hold over the Kushwaha community, caste-oriented Mayawati made it known to him that his days in the BSP were numbered.
Samajwadi Party’s Turnaround
Swami Prasad then started sending feelers to the Samajwadi Party. The SP leadership was more than happy to be able to poach the BSP, its biggest rival. But Maurya apparently failed to strike a final deal with the SP as his demands were too big – besides a berth in the Akhilesh cabinet, he wanted assembly tickets for his son and daughter.
His acceptance in the party was initially demonstrated by senior SP leader Azam Khan’s warm embrace, shortly after Maurya “revolted.” However, the next 24 hours saw a change in Maurya’s stand as he went ballistic, terming it as a “party of outlaws”. In the same vein, he also sought to accuse the BJP of being a party of “rioters”.
This evidently leaves him with one option – to form his own political outfit that could put him in a firmer bargaining position in a post-election scenario when he would have the option to choose.
(The writer is a Lucknow-based senior journalist.)
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