Ahead of Crucial State Polls, Major Jolt to BJP in Uttar Pradesh as Key Minister Joins Opposition

© AFP 2023 / NARINDER NANU Swami Prasad Maurya (C) speaks with media persons during a press conference
 Swami Prasad Maurya (C) speaks with media persons during a press conference - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.01.2022
The state assembly election in Uttar Pradesh is scheduled to begin 10 February. The Bharatiya Janata Party is the ruling party of the state, while the Samajwadi Party is the primary political opposition party. With elections around the corner, all political parties in the state are forming new strategies.
In a pre-election jolt to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Yogi Adityanath, the chief of India’s Uttar Pradesh state, key cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya on Tuesday joined the Samajwadi Party (SP), the state's primary political opposition party.
Maurya’s resignation reportedly came as a shock for the BJP as the majority party could lose Other Backward Class (OBC) votes. Maurya previously played a crucial role for the BJP in securing OBC votes in the last assembly elections.
BJP had hoped to draw in a critical selection of OBC voters to counter Samajwadi.
Tweeting the resignation letter to the governor, Maurya wrote: "Despite a divergent ideology, I worked with dedication in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet. But because of the grave oppression of Dalits, OBCs, farmers, unemployed and small businessmen, I am resigning."
Reports also suggest that Maurya could take a few BJP lawmakers to the SP with him.
Moments after Maurya tweeted his resignation letter, another BJP lawmaker, Roshan Lal Verma, announced his resignation.
According to media reports, Uttar Pradesh BJP lawmakers Brijesh Prajapati and Bhagwati Sagar have also resigned from the majority party and are thoughth to be headed to SP.
Soon after Maurya's resignation tweet, SP president Akhilesh Yadav tweeted a photograph with the former to welcome him and his supporters to the primary Uttar Pradesh opposition party.
Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi: "Warm welcome and greetings to the popular leader Swami Prasad Maurya ji and other leaders, workers in the party who fought for social justice and equality! There will be a revolution for social justice, there will be change."
Reportedly shocked by Maurya's resignation, a senior BJP leader and federal home minister, Amit Shah, asked the deputy state chief of Uttar Pradesh to persuade Maurya and his supporters to return to the BJP.
The deputy state chief tweeted: "I don't know why respected Swami Prasad Maurya quit but I appeal to him let's sit together and discuss. Decisions that are taken in haste usually prove wrong."
Maurya previously joined the BJP in 2016, after quitting former state chief Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party. Maurya at the time represented the Padrauna Constituency of Uttar Pradesh.
State assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases, starting 10 February. The voting for the last phase will be carried out on 7 March, and results of the elections will be declared on 10 March.
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