The Samajwadi Party is also trying to build up a powerful coalition of OBC groups.
Lucknow: All major political parties are now eyeing on the 40 per cent OBC population in Uttar Pradesh to help them emerge winner in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP, earlier known as a pro-upper caste party, is now focusing increasingly on OBCs, especially non-Yadavs. Yadavs, who constitute about 15 per cent of the OBC population, continue to stand behind the Samajwadi Party.
The ruling party recently constituted an OBC cell with Rajesh Varma as its head. Party leaders have been directed to establish connect with the OBC population in villages, and project an OBC friendly image.
The BJP is promoting leaders like Sakaldeep Rajbhar, Rajya Sabha MP, and Anil Rajbhar, UP minister, who will step if Om Prakash Rajbhar, president of the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) plays truant before the general elections.
The BJP is also eyeing the most backward castes (MBCs) by promising them reservation within reservation. However, the party is treading cautiously on this issue since it is being opposed by Yadavs and Kurmi, the two powerful segments within the OBC category, who feel that their share of reservation will be compromised if MBCs get reservation within reservation.
In fact, it was a Yadav minister (Ashok Yadav) in the Rajnath Singh government, who had challenged the proposal in the Supreme Court when the then chief minister Mr Rajnath Singh announced reservation within reservation. The matter was subsequently stayed.
The Samajwadi Party, meanwhile, is also trying to build up a powerful coalition of OBC groups. While Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav continues to remain the undisputed leader among Yadavs, Mr Akhilesh Yadav is trying to get RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav to campaign for his party and further consolidate the Yadav votes in his favour.
The SP chief is also building bridges with senior Kurmi leader and party MP Beni Prasad Varma and had even visited the latter’s residence to wish him on his birthday recently.
The SP alliance with the Nishad Party is also designed to get it Nishad and Mallah votes.
The BSP is not far behind when it come sot making a conscious effort to woo OBCs. The party recently appointed R.S. Kushwaha as its state president and elevated Ram Achal Rajbhar as national general secretary. Some other OBC leaders are expected to be elevated to party posts in the coming weeks.
The Congress, meanwhile, will now be projecting UPCC president Raj Babbar as an OBC leader. Mr Babbar, so far, was largely seen as a ‘casteless person’ with his stature as a politician and film actor being larger than his caste background. The party now will emphasize the fact that he belongs to the OBC category and is confident that it will win over OBC votes.