Yogi’s deputies: Reluctant to disturb OBC poll calculus, BJP retains Maurya

Despite his loss in the recently concluded elections, the BJP retained Keshav Prasad Maurya as a Deputy Chief Minister in the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet, effecting a turnaround in the fortunes of the man considered to be the party’s Other Backward Class (OBC) face. Earlier this month, Maurya lost to Pallavi Patel of the Apna Dal (Kamerwadi) from Sirathu in Kaushambi district.

Sources said a section of the BJP leadership wanted to shift Maurya to Delhi, but the deputy CM did not agree. With the 2024 Lok Sabha election campaign likely to see the Samajwadi Party (SP) vie more aggressively for its non-Yadav vote bank, the BJP leadership concluded that it would be a risk to alienate Maurya, who has emerged as a prominent OBC leader in the post-Kalyan Singh era.

Maurya represents the crucial Kachhi-Kushwaha-Shakya-Maurya-Saini-Mali block. These communities constitute 6.69 per cent of OBCs, as per a 2001 report of a Social Justice Committee set up by then Chief Minister Rajnath Singh. The report had also estimated that OBCs comprise 43.13 per cent of the population (54.05 per cent in rural areas).

The BJP is troubled by the lack of requisite votes from Kurmis — who are the second-largest OBC group in UP after Yadavs, according to the Social Justice Committee — and the SP’s gains among the community. In the elections, the Akhilesh Yadav-led party’s Kurmi legislators defeated three incumbent ministers, including Maurya, and wrested control of seven seats that the BJP either held or where the incumbent MLA contested on its ticket.

When The Indian Express visited Sirathu before the polls, it found the deputy chief minister’s campaign faltering. Before quitting the BJP, fellow Maurya leader Swami Prasad Maurya even took a dig at the deputy CM, labelling him a “bechara (helpless)”. In the election, Kurmis, who have a significant presence in the constituency largely voted for Pallavi Patel and the BJP-Apna Dal (Sonelal) alliance did not work in Maurya’s favour, said sources in the BJP.

In 2017, Maurya was a Lok Sabha MP from Phulpur and the BJP’s state president.

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