Lucknow: With the Lok Sabha elections approaching, the caste cauldron, as always, is on the boil in Uttar Pradesh — the only difference being that from caste it has gone on to sub-castes.
Political parties in Uttar Pradesh are unabashedly organising sub caste conferences, ignoring the 2017 Supreme Court order that said that “religion, race, caste, community or language would not be allowed to play any role in the electoral process” .
The BJP which, till now, had put Hindutva on its priority list, is now wooing sub-castes from the OBC category with a vengeance.
The party apparently feels that addressing Hindus, in general, will not bring in adequate numbers in the elections.
The BJP has been holding sub-caste conferences in Lucknow under the leadership of its OBC leaders including Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya — an OBC himself.
The Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) President Om Prakash Rajbhar is the new self-proclaimed leader of OBCs and is p[ushing the envelope to muster backward support for BJP.
The BJP is keen to wean away a part of the Samajwadi Party’s vote base and also make a dent in BSP’s following by wooing Most Backward Castes.
There are over 200 sub-castes among the OBCs that constitute 40 per cent of the state’s population. The OBC population is dominated by Yadavs (15 per cent) and followed by Kurmis (9 per cent).
The remaining sub-castes constitute one to two per cent of the population.
The BJP, till now, has held conferences for sub-castes that include Nishad, Kashyap, Bind, Kurmi, Yadav, Chaurasia, Teli, Sahu, Nai, Vishwakarma, Baghel, Pal, Lodh, Jat, Giri, Goswami, Jaiswal, Kalvar, Saini, Mali, Gangwar and even Halwai that has a population of .02 per cent.
The party is assuring these sub-caste groups that it would protect their interests.
A senior BJP functionary admitted that the party was keen to add on to its present vote base since that would make up for any depletion due to the anti-incumbency factor.
“This is a conscious effort to bring marginalised sections of society into the party fold. What is wrong if we are trying to expand our vote base?” said the functionary.
Seeing the BJP making a concerted effort to woo the sub-caste groups, the Samajwadi Party that had so far remained content with its Yadav vote bank, has also started reaching out to non-Yadav OBCs. Its slogan of PDA (Pichhda, Dalit, Alpasankhyak) is a manifestation of its new strategy.
Samajwadi Party spokesman Sunil Sajan, meanwhile, denied that the Samajwadi Party was following in BJP’s footsteps.
“We are not holding sub-caste Sammelan like the BJP and becoming blatantly casteist in approach. We are holding social justice programme for OBCs in general,” he said.
The Bahujan Samaj Party, on the other hand, is wooing various Dalit sub-castes through its Bhaichara committees.
The Congress, so far, has avoided any such conferences.