It’s been a long and elusive wait for Mr. Keshav Prasad Maurya to become the Chief Minister of India’s largest and most populous state Uttar Pradesh. When he led the BJP in Uttar Pradesh five years ago, he was considered the most likely candidate for the post. But at the last minute, Mr. Yogi Adityanath pipped him to the top. Even though Adityanath is the party’s face in the state, Maurya’s claim cannot be ignored. The BJP must keep its tallest leader from the OBC community happy after several of its OBC leaders left.
According to Mr. Swami Prasad Maurya, who left the BJP, the party ignored OBCs; he pointed to Keshav Prasad in particular, saying he was treated like a “Bechara”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Amit Shah clarified any doubts at the start of the election campaign. They stated that if Adityanath were elected in 2022, Modi would be elected in 2024. As a result of meetings with state leaders in Lucknow in the run-up to the elections, senior BJP and RSS leaders also stated that neither the state leadership (CM) nor the state BJP president Swatantra Dev would change.
Keshav Maurya was groomed to be a Hindutva face by the RSS-BJP as a part of the party’s backward classes project, which appeals to communities outside the Yadav clan.
Even though the BJP did not declare a CM face in the 2017 election, Keshav Maurya’s supporters assumed that he’d most likely be the candidate. The BJP, however, nominated Yogi Adityanath as CM after the party registered a majority. The BJP appointed Keshav Maurya as Deputy Chief Minister and Mr. Dinesh Sharma as Lucknow’s Brahmin mayor to strike a balance in the caste equation.
This sidelining has been used by the opposition, especially the Samajwadi Party (SP), to attack the BJP.
To illustrate his claim that the BJP could not elevate a leader from the community to the top seat despite using OBC votes to come to power on anti-Yadav sentiment, SP President Mr. Akhilesh Yadav often mocks Mr. Maurya. Mr. Yadav referred to Mr. Maurya as “a stool-wale deputy chief minister [who was denied a chair]” on January 15, 2022.
The 2022 Elections
In 2017, Mr. Maurya was asked to move out of the fifth floor of the State secretariat building — the power centre of the government — setting the stage for an uneasy relationship between him and Mr. Adityanath. The rumour mills had ramped up again after Mr. Maurya’s alleged use of fake educational degrees sparked a lawsuit from a local court. He was, however, denied a criminal case in September of last year by the court.
On several occasions, Mr. Maurya, too, has given a boost to theories that the central leadership will decide the face of Mr. Adityanath in 2022 due to alleged differences of opinion within the state BJP about his leadership.
An Instagram video of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath became viral in December 2021, claiming that he humiliated UP’s deputy chief minister in public. Several people are shown on a stage in the video, including Yogi Adityanath. He publicly scolds and asks Maurya to sit back when he approaches to inform him about something.
According to Mr. Keshav Maurya, when asked about his relationship with Mr. Adityanath, whom Prime Minister Modi has publicly endorsed as CM face, “no force in the world can break their strong” bond.
Akhilesh Yadav’s offer
The Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has offered Keshav Prasad Maurya, UP’s deputy chief minister, the position of the chief minister. This is in the wake of Nitish Kumar’s departure from the BJP. Yadav has said that if Keshav Maurya breaks away from the BJP with the support of enough legislators, the SP will support him as chief minister.
The BJP leader Maurya mocked Yadav, saying he couldn’t make the decision. Additionally, he said that the SP chief was making absurd comments to keep himself in the news. Maurya – who remains the deputy chief minister in Yogi Adityanath’s government 2.0, believes that the politician is making such absurd comments to remain in the news. He knows that Yadav is not his well-wisher; he opposes the BJP and the backward.
Akhilesh Yadav called Maurya a “weak person” in a Tuesday interview with ABP News. Akhilesh further said that Maurya had a dream of becoming the chief minister. He further said that Maurya should take Bihar as an example.
In Bihar, JD-U chief Nitish Kumar last month called off his alliance with the BJP and rejoined the RJD to form the Mahagathbandhan government. The thing that happened in Bihar can be done in UP too, according to the SP leader. Rajendra Chaudhary, the SP spokesperson, said Akhilesh’s “offer” to Maurya messaged that the BJP sidelines the backward and he (Maurya) is unwanted in their government.
Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, president of the Uttar Pradesh BJP, echoed Yadav’s accusations, saying Maurya “will always be with us”. According to Chaudhary, Keshav has proven his commitment to BJP ideology. He will always be with them. He further stated that Keshav is not a selfish person and that Akhilesh Yadav will never be able to control him.
He advised Akhilesh Yadav to worry about his alliance, family, and party because his “MLAs are in touch with BJP.”