LUCKNOW: In a major jolt to BSP, its senior leader Swami Prasad Maurya quit the party today, saying he felt "suffocated" and accused its chief Mayawati of "auctioning" tickets for next year's Assembly polls.
Maurya, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, left BSP amid speculation that he might join the ruling Samajwadi Party and could be made a minister when Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav expands his Council of Ministers on June 27. "I feel suffocated and cannot continue in the party any more," he said at a hurriedly-convened press conference here.
"Tickets are being openly auctioned by Mayawati on a large scale. She is not making the right choice of candidates. Tickets are not only on sale in the party, they are being auctioned," he added. 62-year-old Maurya, who represents Padrauna Assembly constituency, has been a minister in the Mayawati government.
To a question, he said he would announce his next course of action soon. Reacting to the development, Mayawati said Maurya has done great favour to BSP by quitting it. She described Maurya a "habitual party-hopper".
Maurya is said to be in close touch with senior SP leaders Shivpal Singh Yadav and Mohd Azam Khan giving rise to rumours that he was cosying up with the ruling party in the state. Speculation is rife in the political circles that Maurya might join SP and could even find a berth in the Akhilesh government.
Yadav will expand his ministry on June 27 in perhaps the last reshuffle of his council of ministers ahead of the Assembly election in early 2017 and Maurya could be accommodated as there are four vacancies in the council of ministers. During his interaction with mediapersons today, Maurya said Ambedkar dedicated his life for the sake of ensuring rights to the Dalits and BSP founder Kashiram too spent his life to strengthen the party and give the Dalits their rightful place in the society.
"But Mayawati deviated from their principles and stooped to the level of not only selling party tickets, but auctioning them to the highest bidder," he alleged. "...it is worse than auctioning. In auctioning tenders are floated. But here bidding is done repeatedly," he alleged.
Contending that genuine workers were feeling demoralised because of Mayawati's actions, Maurya said, "I myself feel insulted in the party. If I cannot serve the people or the party, then what meaning do these posts hold for me?"
Mayawati on the other hand said, "Swami Prasad Maurya has done great favour to BSP by quitting the party."