Uttar Pradesh: Keshav Prasad Maurya out of CM race as Amit Shah says BJP would back state party chief's pick

Maurya, a prominent OBC face in the BJP, rose to prominence due to the uncanny resemblance of his rags to riches story with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

FP Politics March 16, 2017 15:24:16 IST
Uttar Pradesh: Keshav Prasad Maurya out of CM race as Amit Shah says BJP would back state party chief's pick

Amid growing suspense over who would be the chief ministerial pick of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah on Thursday said that the party will endorse its state unit president's choice.

The move brought to a jarring halt the speculations around Keshav Prasad Maurya's chances to be the state's chief minister, who until Wednesday, was being considered amid the front-runners to the top job in key Hindi heartland state.

Uttar Pradesh Keshav Prasad Maurya out of CM race as Amit Shah says BJP would back state party chiefs pick

File photo of Keshav Prasad Maurya. Image courtesy: CNN-News18

Maurya, a prominent OBC face in the BJP, rose to prominence due to the uncanny resemblance of his rags to riches story with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.

Like Modi, Maurya, was an OBC with humble begining. He too rose the ranks of politics with the backing of the Sangh, for being a dedicated RSS pracharak, and Maurya had also worked as a tea seller in his initial days.

However, what stood in the way of the BJP state unit chief's otherwise stellar career, were close to 10 criminal lodged against him, including those of murder, hate speech, promoting enmity between groups, criminal intimidation, deliberate acts of hurting religious sentiment, criminal conspiracy and rioting.

With the Modi-Shah magic resting on a clean governance and "Na khaunga na khane dunga" narrative, it would have been tough for the duo to justify the choice. Besides, although Maurya has spectacularly cemented the OBC vote in the Allahabad-Kashi belt, he remains a little known face outside his area of influence.

Maurya is also a vocal right-winger, who does not shy away from voicing his pro-Hindu opinion. Amid allegations of alienating the Muslims in ticket distribution, and now subsequently in the legislative assembly, the saffron party would not have wanted to court any more controversies. Moreover, in a well-curated narrative post Modi's victory speech highlighting "governance for all," a hard-core Hinduvadi voice at the helm of the state would not have augmented well with the party's strategy.

Shah's wise decision of trumping Maurya to the top job can easily be veiled behind the the party's much touted long-standing policy of "one man, one post," with Maurya already being the orgnisational head of the saffron party's state unit.

On the other hand, someone like a Rajnath Singh — who has enough years on the ground under RSS canopy to please the Sangh, and has been long enough in politics to walk the nuanced line of a liberal-right leaning ideology, at least in the public view — would be a much better fit in the BJP's new post-poll language.

Therefore, in what could be termed a clever maneuver by Shah, the saffron party by allowing Maurya to choose his pick for the top job has pacified the OBC leader and his support base while carefully wriggling out of a slippery situation.

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