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BJP never linked temples with elections; desertion of OBC MLAs won’t impact party’s UP poll prospects: Keshav Prasad Maurya

Recently, Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini quit the state cabinet and the BJP to join the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) along with some legislators.

The SP, BSP and RLD came together in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but the BJP won 64 seats in the state, and got 51 per cent of votes, Maurya said.

Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya today said desertion of OBC ministers and MLAs from the BJP will have no impact on the party’s poll prospects in Uttar Pradesh as all sections of society trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They have left to fulfil their “self-interest” and not for “any ideology”, the BJP leader said.

Recently, Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini quit the state cabinet and the BJP to join the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) along with some legislators.

Dismissing any challenge from rivals in the high-decibel seven-phase Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, which begins next month, Deputy Chief Minister Maurya said it was claimed that the BJP would be impacted in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but the party won, and used the Hindi proverb ‘khoda pahar, nikle chuhiya’ to describe the claim makers.

He claimed that like in 2019, after the assembly polls’ results are declared on March 10 neither Yadav, Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi Vadra nor other “so-called challengers” to the BJP will be seen. Taking a swipe at the leaders who deserted the BJP, he told PTI in an interview that no voter has gone with them.

The desertion was seen in political circles as a major blow to the BJP’s support among Other Backward Castes (OBCs), which form over 50 per cent of the state’s population.

The BJP’s “double-engine” government has done a lot of work for the people and “I say that in (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji there is a confluence of the upper castes, backward castes and the scheduled castes…,” Maurya said ahead of the polls to the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly.

Hitting out at the defectors, he said in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won 73 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, and then these people were not with the BJP. The BJP won again in the 2017 assembly polls after the historic win of 2014, Maurya, he said.

Swami Prasad Maurya, Chauhan and Saini had left the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and joined the BJP before the 2017 state polls. “Somebody joining the party or leaving it hardly makes a difference as the BJP is very strong at the booth level. I don’t feel that any voter has gone with them (defectors). They have gone out of their vested self-interest and not for any ideology,” Deputy Chief Minister Maurya said.

The BJP is running a number of campaigns and in the state, under its government there has been an improvement in law and order, and a number of developmental works have been done, he said. Even if all rival parties come together, the BJP will be stronger, Maurya, who is in the fray from Sirathu, said.

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections is an example. The SP, BSP and RLD came together, but the BJP (and its allies) won 64 seats in the state, and got 51 per cent of votes, Maurya said.

On who is the face of the BJP in the state polls — Narendra Modi or Yogi Adityanath, he said, “Chief ministers are generally the face (of the party) in a state. The BJP is not a party of one state that it will remain confined there like the SP, BSP or the Congress.”

“We are a pan-India party, and there are prominent faces, whose one programme will lead the party to victory in 100 seats,” he said, adding “we will win on the development work done.”

On Yadav claiming that his rainbow coalition is becoming stronger with every passing day, Maurya mockingly said, “Similar claims were made in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.”

“But, when the results came, it was ‘khoda pahar, niklee chuhiya’. There is no strength in his claims,” Maurya said

Continuing with his attack on Yadav, he said, “If he (Yadav) says that dynastic politics is socialism, then this is equivalent to ridiculing socialism”.

On the matter of Lord Krishna appearing in Yadav’s dreams, Maurya said, “If Lord Krishna had come in his dreams, then I believe he must have told him to stop making efforts in 2022, and prepare for 2027.”

About Aparna Yadav, the younger daughter-in-law of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, joining the BJP, he said even before joining the BJP, Aparna’s point of view was quite similar to the BJP’s view point on various issues.

Maurya who recently raised issues related to Mathura, said, “The BJP never linked temples with elections. For the BJP, prominent religious places are a centre of faith, and not election issues. It is the opposition, which makes them an election issue.”

For the Ram Janmabhoomi, “we used to say that we will make a grand temple for Lord Ram, while the rivals had termed him as ‘imaginary’”, he said.

Maurya also said that the elections will be fought on issues of development, law and order and to make Uttar Pradesh an “Uttam Pradesh”, and claimed that the BJP is going to win over 300 seats. He discarded Yadav’s promise of restoring the old pension scheme, saying it’s merely a “lollipop”.

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