BJP opts for B S Yeddyruppa in Karnataka, OBC Keshav Prasad Maurya in UP

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New Delhi | Published: April 8, 2016 8:34:04 PM

Gearing up for assembly elections, BJP today plumped for former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to lead the party in Karnataka and appointed Keshav Prasad Maurya, an OBC long associated with RSS and VHP, as its President in Uttar Pradesh.

Gearing up for assembly elections, BJP today plumped for former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to lead the party in Karnataka and appointed Keshav Prasad Maurya, an OBC long associated with RSS and VHP, as its President in Uttar Pradesh.

It also named Union Minister Vijay Sampla, a Dalit leader, as its president in Punjab. Maurya, Yeddyurappa and Sampla are Lok Sabha members at present. Uttar Pradesh and Punjab will go to polls next year while Karnataka will have elections in 2018.

Yeddyurappa, the tallest Lingayat leader who was removed as Chief Minister on corruption charges and had floated his own party before the last assembly elections, returns to the helm of affairs in the state BJP, which is looking to wrest power back from Congress.

Reacting to his appointment, Yeddyurappa said his priority would be to bring back BJP to power as people are “fed up” with the “corrupt” Congress government.

Maurya is a first-time MP from Phulpur and party president Amit Shah opted for him from among a number of state leaders that did the rounds for months for the crucial assignment. He has actively campaigned on issues like Ram temple and cow protection.

OBC leaders Dharampal Singh and Swatantra Dev besides Dinesh Sharma, a Brahmin, and Union Minister Manoj Sinha, a Bhumihar, were among the other contenders for the post but Maurya’s social background and Hindutva activism tipped the scale in his favour, sources said.

“He comes from a backward community and a very poor family. He sold newspapers and tea for a living,” BJP General Secretary Arun Singh said at a press conference. He said Maurya was a “full timer”, a term for those associated with RSS, for over 14 years. The BJP had swept the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, winning 71 of the 80 seats on its own while helping an ally get two seats.

Yeddyurappa had returned to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, helping the party win 17 of the 28 seats in the state.

Singh downplayed corruption cases against him, saying he has been discharged in some and there is no substance in others. “They are politically motivated,” he added.

With Sampla’s appointment, BJP hopes it will win over Dalit votes in Punjab, where the community’s share of total votes is more than any other state. The SCs are almost one-thirds of the total voters. BJP is an ally of Akali Dal and shares power in the state.

The party also announced K Laxman and Tapir Gao as its new chiefs in Telangana and Arunachal Pradesh.

Laxman is presently its leader in the state assembly while Gao was a former Lok Sabha member.

The party’s choice for Maurya, Yeddyurappa and Laxman, who are from OBC group, and Sampla, a Dalit, underscores its vigorous campaign to woo the underprivileged communities after it suffered a debacle in Bihar and whose role would be key to its electoral fortunes in all these states.

With today’s appointments, party has declared its new Presidents in most of the states. It is yet to announce chiefs for six others, including Bihar, Jharkhand and Delhi.

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