An arrest warrant has been issued against former Uttar Pradesh Minister of Labour Swami Prasad Maurya, a day after he resigned from the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet and from the BJP to join Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP).
The arrest warrant was issued in Sultanpur where Maurya faces a hate speech charge for a speech he made in 2014 when he was in Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). “Goddess Gauri or Lord Ganesha should not be worshipped during weddings. It is a conspiracy by upper caste-dominated system to mislead and enslave Dalits and backward castes,” the former minister had reportedly said at a gathering back then.
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The former minister had been asked to appear in court for the same reason on Wednesday, but reportedly did not show up. He has now been asked to appear in court on January 24.
Maurya’s arrest warrant comes at a time when the BJP is facing the very real prospect of an exodus in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Following in Maurya’s footsteps, three other BJP MLAs, namely, Roshan Lal Verma, Brijesh Prajapati, and Bhagwati Sagar, also resigned on Tuesday and joined the SP.
Subsequently, on Wednesday, UP forests and environment minister Dara Singh Chauhan tendered his resignation, and is also likely to exit the BJP and join the SP.
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Both Maurya and Chauhan alleged misgovernance by the Yogi Adityanath government, citing in particular the mistreatment of Dalits and backward classes. While Maurya attributed his resignation to the “grave oppression of Dalits, OBCs, farmers, unemployed and small businessmen” by the Adityanath government, Chauhan said that the “the government’s gross neglect of backward classes, Dalits, farmers and unemployed youth, as well as the interference in reservations for backward classes and Dalits” sparked his resignation.
Following Tuesday’s resignations, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar had warned the BJP that many more resignations would follow, and it remains to be seen whether an arrest warrant against Maurya deters potential defectors from the saffron party ahead of the upcoming UP Assembly elections in February.