Swami Prasad Maurya, a former senior Bahujan Samaj Party leader in Uttar Pradesh, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday. BJP President Amit Shah was present when he joined the party, reported PTI. The move comes as the state gears up for Assembly elections scheduled for early next year.

Maurya, who was Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly before he quit BSP in June, said the BJP has a strong chance of winning the upcoming polls and sought support from the party’s central leadership. The four-time MLA from Padrauna in Kushinagar district said he was impressed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's work “to empower the weaker sections.”

Maurya also slammed Mayawati for turning BSP into “an industrial house”. He accused the BSP chief of marginalising the backward castes and said she will likely give them only 26-27 seats in the state's 403-seat Assembly. Maurya, who is known to be an Other Backward Castes leader, reportedly has a strong support among voters belonging to Kushwaha, Maurya, Shakya and Saini communities.

He also hinted at the possibility of other BSP legislators soon joining BJP, reported The Hindu. “Several of my other colleagues will also be joining the BJP in Lucknow, including former minister Vinay Shakya."

BJP state chief Keshav Prasad Maurya also welcomed the former BSP leader to the party. Swami Prasad Maurya had quit the BSP in June after he said corruption had seeped deep into the party and accused Mayawati of selling tickets.