Swami Prasad Maurya: Why this BJP dissenter now faces arrest
A month ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, Swami Prasad Maurya tendered a shocking resignation as a minister in the Yogi Adityanath-led state government on Tuesday. Maurya also quit the state's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is likely to join the rival Samajwadi Party (SP). He now faces arrest in a seven-year-old hate speech case. Here's all you need to know.
Why does this story matter?
- Maurya was a popular face for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the BJP.
- If he and his supporters join the SP, it would hurt the BJP's chances of returning to power in the next election.
- The Akhilesh Yadav-led SP has notably been welcoming OBC leaders into its ranks.
- However, the developments in the hate speech case will decide Maurya's fate in the election.
What is the hate speech case?
In 2014, Maurya had said that the Hindu God Ganesha and Goddess Gauri should not be worshipped during weddings. He said this was a conspiracy by the "upper caste" to enslave Dalits and other oppressed castes. At the time, Maurya was a part of Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In 2016, the Allahabad High Court had stayed a warrant for his arrest.
UP court renewed arrest warrant after no-show
On January 6 this year, a Sultanpur court had summoned Maurya in the hate speech case. The summon was issued for Wednesday, however, Maurya was a no-show. Hence, the court has renewed the arrest warrant. He has now been summoned in court on January 24.
Why did Maurya resign?
Maurya had resigned as a minister of labor and employment in the state cabinet on Tuesday. In his resignation letter, he wrote that he did not get "due respect." He also cited the "continued neglect of Dalits, OBCs, farmers and unemployed youth" by the Yogi Adityanath government. He told reporters later that those who kept people marginalized will be "taught a lesson."
After Maurya's exit, others follow suit
Speaking to news portals, Maurya also hinted that he will be joining the SP on Friday. He said that other legislators are expected to resign as well. Already, Dara Singh Chauhan, the minister of forests and environment, and three other MLAs have reportedly quit. Maurya has a bigger support base than UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Maurya earlier complained about UP CM
Two months ago, Maurya had met with senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to reportedly complain about Adityanath. However, the meeting had proven to be fruitless for Maurya. Meanwhile, the SP has managed to ally with Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar. Rajbhar's party had backed the BJP for four and a half years.
When will UP elections be held?
The 2022 UP Legislative Assembly elections are to be held in seven phases for 403 polling constituencies. Voting will be held on February 10, February 14, February 20, February 23, February 27, March 3, and March 7. The election result is expected on March 10. More than 15 crore voters are expected to cast their ballots across 1,74,351 polling stations this year.