LUCKNOW: Keshav Prasad Maurya, BJP's OBC face in Uttar Pradesh, has been rewarded with the post of Deputy Chief Minister for working tirelessly to galvanise support for the party on the ground.
Associated with the RSS and the VHP from an early age, Maurya's life bears an uncanny similarity to that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both, as young men from poor families, helped their fathers sell tea.
Representing Phulpur in the Lok Sabha, Maurya, 47, has seen his career graph rise steadily in the party. He was said to be one of the top contenders for the chief ministership after the landslide victory secured by the party in the state.
After becoming the first time MLA in UP Assembly in 2012, he was made UP BJP chief in 2016 and had a role in the BJP securing three-fourths majority.
Born in a farmer's home in Kaushambi district of UP, Maurya spent his childhood in poverty. Like Modi, Maurya also worked at tea-stalls and sold newspapers to support his family and continue education.
Like Modi, Maurya takes pride in his childhood compulsion of serving tea to customers and considers it as a common thread that binds him with the prime minister.
The member's page on the website of Lok Sabha says that Keshav Prasad Maurya "got inspiration for doing social service as well as education during childhood while selling tea".
As a minor, Maurya joined Baal Swayam Sevak of RSS. Later, he was associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal.
During his 12-year association with the VHP and Bajrang Dal, Maurya was considered close to VHP patron Ashok Singhal.
Known for his fiery speeches, he went to jail during Ayodhya and Gau Raksha (Save Cow) movements.
Maurya was elected to UP Assembly in 2012 from Sirathu seat in Allahabad. In 2014, he contested from Phulpur- best known for having been the constituency of first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The BJP had got considerable support from non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits in UP during the Lok Sabha elections.
The voting pattern prompted the BJP to replace the architect of UP miracle for BJP, Lakshmikant Vajpayee, with Maurya, who belongs to an OBC sub-caste.
Maurya went about consolidating the support base among non-Yadav OBC caste categories. He appointed BJP leaders belonging to Kushwaha, Koeri, Kurmi, Shakya, Patel and others as district unit chiefs across Uttar Pradesh.
Maurya is the only BJP leader after former UP chief minister and present Governor of Rajasthan Kalyan Singh who wields considerable support among OBCs and Dalits.