Baby-Behenji showdown? BJP may field Baby Rani Maurya against Mayawati in UP polls

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The BJP could field former Uttarakhand governor Baby Rani Maurya against Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati in the high-voltage Uttar Pradesh assembly election. According to sources, the saffron party currently lacks a strong Dalit face to gain traction with women voters. And that is why, the party might field Baby Rani Maurya, a woman Dalit leader hailing from Agra.

The BJP is viewing the Uttar Pradesh polls as a tri-cornered contest where it is up against the BSP and the Samajwadi Party (SP). Meanwhile, Mayawati’s right-hand man Satish Mishra is leading from the front.

The BJP is reportedly pinning its hopes on Baby Rani Maurya to counter Mayawati’s influence and help the saffron party make inroads into the Dalit community. Speculation is also rife that a former Agra mayor may be appointed as an MLC in Uttar Pradesh to woo the Dalits.

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Sources said BJP national president JP Nadda met Baby Rani for about an hour. During the meeting, he laid out to her the complete campaign strategy for the Legislative Assembly election.

Sources further revealed that Uttar Pradesh election in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan has been making plans with Baby Rani Maurya at the BJP’s Lucknow headquarters.

It has also been decided that in October-November, she will have crucial general meetings across the state to mobilise people belonging to the Dalit community. After this, Baby Rani will campaign in every district from December till the elections.

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For these meetings, BJP has appointed state general-secretary Priyanka Rawat as the coordinator.

A senior BJP leader told India Today TV that the party is finalising its preparations in Uttar Pradesh before the assembly elections. Perhaps, that is why the names of other members, including Baby Rani Maurya, have also been considered for MLC.

A file of this election strategy has been prepared and sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for approval.

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Amid these preparations by the BJP, the BSP and the SP have also joined the fray. Keeping the same in view, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is reaching out to party workers in all districts including Agra where either the workers or their family members have died due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another contender in the race for Uttar Pradesh is Azad Party chief Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, who may further split the Dalit vote. At a recent cycle rally in Agra organised by the Azad party, a large number of Dalit Muslim youths were visible.

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Meanwhile, Congress general-secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also working hard for the party. She is re-inducting the old Congress leaders into the party.

Priyanka’s rally in Agra, scheduled for October 7, has been postponed for the time being. Congress leaders in the state are hopeful that this time, the grand old party will be able to make a significant dent in the BJP’s bastion under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi.

Can Baby Rani Maurya help BJP dent Mayawati’s Jatav vote base in UP?

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When Baby Rani Maurya resigned as governor of Uttarakhand on September 8, there was speculation as to what new responsibility the BJP would give her. On September 20, the party appointed Maurya, a Dalit leader, as national vice-president with an apparent aim to take on Mayawati and her BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) in the UP assembly elections due early next year. Both Mayawati and Maurya belong to the dominant Jatav sub-caste among Dalits.

Dalits make up about 21 per cent of UP’s population—half of them belong to the Jatav community. Ramesh Sachan, associate professor of political science at the Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Agra, says: “The BJP appears to have devised a strategy to strongly project Baby Rani Maurya in the assembly elections to dent Mayawati’s Jatav vote bank. The Jatav community comprises 20 per cent or more of the population in 40 assembly seats in western UP.”

Of the 403 assembly seats in UP, 85 seats are reserved. The BJP had won 71 of these seats in the 2017 assembly election.

Maurya has had an association with the BJP since 1995. That year, she contested the elections for the mayor’s post in Agra on a BJP ticket and won by a huge margin. She is the first woman to have become the mayor of Agra, holding the post till 2000. In 2002, Maurya became a member of the National Commission for Women. After this, as a member of the Social Welfare Board, Maurya worked for the empowerment of Dalit women in UP.

In the 2007 assembly election, Maurya contested the Etmadpur assembly seat in Agra on a BJP ticket, losing to the BSP’s Narayan Singh Suman. In July 2018, Maurya was made a member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights after the BJP came to power in UP in 2017. She was appointed Uttarakhand governor in August 2018.

BJP national president J.P. Nadda’s visit to UP earlier this month is being seen as part of the party’s plan to strengthen its Dalit base, and particularly dent Mayawati’s Jatav vote bank. During his visit to Lucknow on September 7, Nadda was welcomed by Ashok Jatav, the district panchayat president of Chitrakoot, at the conference of block chiefs and district panchayat presidents. At a meeting held at the BJP state headquarters the same day, a plan was made regarding the Jatav vote bank. Maurya’s potential role in this was discussed at the first meeting held by Dharmendra Pradhan, the BJP’s assembly election in-charge for UP, in Lucknow on September 22.

As part of the strategy, Maurya will be holding a series of meetings in October-November to mobilise the Jatavs as well as other Dalit communities. Beginning December, rallies by Maurya are planned in every district of the state. BJP state general secretary Priyanka Rawat has been appointed coordinator for the meetings.

The BSP is unfazed by the developments. Party spokesperson Dharamvir Choudhary says Mayawati’s rule in UP was “full of achievements” whereas the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state have not done any work for Dalits. “The highest number of crimes against Dalits have been committed during the BJP rule in UP. Dalits are angry with the party. For the 2022 assembly election, the BJP is betting on Baby Rani Maurya but it’s going to backfire,” he said.

bjp: 2 weeks after quitting as governor, Baby Rani Maurya appointed BJP national vice-president

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TOI

AGRA: Two weeks after stepping down as Uttarakhand governor, Baby Rani Maurya was appointed national vice-president by the BJP along with Dilip Ghosh , who was dropped as the party’s West Bengal chief, on Monday.“My main objective is to fulfil the responsibility given to me by my organisation. I have been performing my duty with full dedication, whether as a member of the national commission, as mayor or as governor. I will continue to do so,” Maurya toldafter the announcement. “I am happy the party has given me such an important position.”With no political lineage, Maurya, 65, worked her way up the party ranks over decades. She was the first Dalit woman to become Agra’s mayor in 1995 as a BJP candidate. After holding the post for five years, she served on the National Commission for Women from 2002 to 2005 before being appointed the governor of Uttarakhand in 2018.Within the party, she had been appointed an office-bearer for the SC wing which Ram Nath Kovind was heading at the time — in 1997. She had also contested the 2007 UP assembly election from Etmadpur as a BJP candidate but lost by a narrow margin to BSP’s Narayan Singh. She is likely to be the party’s Dalit face for the UP assembly election next year.With the two appointments on Monday, BJP now has 13 national vice-presidents.