In preparations to run-up to next year's assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has appointed Keshav Prasad Maurya as the party's state unit president. He will be succeeding Laxmikant Bajpai, whose term came to an end last December.
Maurya has beaten top leaders of the party to the post. BJP national president Amit Shah has chosen Maurya, a leader from the backward class, over minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha, tourism minister Mahesh Sharma, BJP vice-president Dinesh Sharma and other stalwarts.
Maurya's social background and his association with Hindutva groups seemed to have worked in his favour.
Maurya has been associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and has been part of several movements led by right-wing groups, including Ram Janmabhoomi. More recently he also actively spearheaded campaigns on the issues of cow protection and nationalism.
The 47-year-old MP from Phulpur belongs to MOBC (most backward caste) and he was elected as an MLA in 2012 from Sirathu assembly constituency. In 2014, he became a first time MP from Phulpur, which is known as the constituency of the late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
When he was young he used to assist his father Shyamlal Maurya in running a tea stall, where he also sold newspapers.
By appointing Maurya as the state head of the party, the BJP strategists have made it clear that the party would not hesitate to make some bold decisions, even if they are against popular opinions. The BJP high-command also hopes to rally the support of voters from the backward class with Maurya at the helm.
The BJP has set the bar quite high in terms of its electoral performance in Uttar Pradesh after it bagged 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. The biggest challenge before Maurya is to consolidate the party in the state and ensure a comprehensive victory for it.