Lucknow/ New Delhi, Aug 8: The former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Swami Prasad Maurya on Monday, Aug 8 joined the BJP, ahead of next year assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
62-year-old Maurya, an OBC leader, was inducted into the saffron party in the presence of BJP President Amit Shah and state party chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, among other senior leaders of the party. The four-time MLA claimed that if he received ample support from the party's leadership, then it would come to power in the state with a strong majority.
On June 22, this year, Maurya had parted ways with the BSP, accusing the party supremo Mayawati of "auctioning" tickets for the 2017 Assembly elections.
Maurya, who was the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, said he was impressed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's work to empower the weaker sections.
"I have taken an appropriate decision at an appropriate time," he told a press conference.
Maurya, who is said to enjoy influence with a section of OBC voters belonging to Kushwaha, Maurya, Shakya and Saini communities, also lashed out at "communal forces" for their attempt to divide society, in an apparent criticism of cow vigilantes.
He then praised Modi's statements over the matter in the last two days. In a message to his supporters, some of whom remain in BSP, and the BJP leadership, he requested his new party to give due respect to them whenever they join it in the future.
"There are also many MLAs who will join the party," he said and took names of some former MLAs who joined BJP along with him.
He lashed out at Mayawati, saying that she has been marginalising the backwards castes and was likely to give them only 26-27 seats in the 403-seat UP assembly elections.
In the Lok Sabha polls, BJP gave members of the community 29 seats, all of whom won, while BSP gave to only 16, he said.
BSP was a movement under its founder Kanshi Ram but Mayawati has begun selling tickets, Maurya alleged.
"BSP is no longer a political party but an industrial house. It is not only an insult of Baba Sahab Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram but also our Constitution. It will not be an exaggeration to say that it is murder of democracy," he said, attacking his former leader.
Shah, who left soon after briefly sharing the stage with Maurya, did not speak. UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya said Swami Prasad Maurya's entry into the party will boost its strength and its mission to winning power in the state is close to reality.
Mayawati had slammed him as "habitual party-hopper" and said his departure was a "good riddance" as in any case she would have shown him the door for seeking tickets for his son and daughter as BSP does not promote dynastic politics.
Earlier, there were reports that Maurya may join hands with ruling-Samajwadi Party.