For Each Minister Who Quits, A Photo From Akhilesh Yadav

Candid Camera: For Each Minister Who Quits, A Photo From Akhilesh Yadav

Lucknow:

The first time around, it took ten minutes. Today, it was about eight.

Akhilesh Yadav has proved Fastest Finger, tweeting photos with alacrity each time a senior minister has quit the Yogi Adityanath government. For those not keeping count, that’s twice in the last 24 hours.

Swami Prasad Maurya announced his resignation yesterday. Though it was evident he was going to join Akhilesh Yadav’s party, he said he was considering his options. Akhilesh Yadav was less coy, tweeting a photo of them together. Swami Prasad Maurya told NDTV today that he will share his next step on Friday. To news agency ANI, he said he will join the Samajwadi Party on Friday. It’s pretty clear what’s coming up.

Dara Singh Chauhan, who, like Swami Prasad Maurya, is a prominent Other Backward Caste (OBC) leader, today said he too is done with the BJP. Accusing it of ignoring Dalits and other lower castes, he said the BJP was no longer acceptable to him as he resigned as Environment Minister. He said he will consult his supporters about the next step. Akhilesh Yadav may have given that away by helpfully sharing a photo of them together.

In the last 24 hours, a total of 4 legislators or MLAs from the BJP have said they’re moving on. Most are supporters of Swami Prasad Maurya, whose caste makes up 6 percent of the state’s population. Crucially, it forms between 10-15 percent of the Other Backward Castes, a bloc essential to a state victory.

Akhilesh Yadav’s previous term as Chief Minister was won on the strength of the Muslim-Yadav combination.

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The BJP displaced him in 2017 by outdoing his grouping -it managed to win both upper caste votes and a large chunk of backward castes who are non-Yadavs.

Swami Prasad Maurya has venerable standing in eastern UP, same as Dara Singh Chauhan who is from the OBC Chauhan caste. Both former ministers were senior leaders with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party before relocating to the BJP.

OBC leaders ejecting from the BJP to land in the Samajwadi Party just weeks ahead of voting is a disturbing trend for the ruling party. The pattern, if it expands, gives Akhilesh Yadav a far wider base to work with than has been available to him in the past. For the BJP, it underscores the damaging perception that its Chief Minister has expended favours and attention on his own upper caste- “Thakur Raj” is what critics have labelled it – at the expense of lower castes.



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