BJP Leads In UP, Caste Engineering By Amit Shaw On Test

Lucknow: While the BJP is known for its tactics to polarise the society on religious basis before elections, its present president Amit Shaw has evolved a strategy to divide the voters on caste basis. Since caste has come to be identified with politics and elections, there is no hue and cry from the secularists who have learned to live with caste-based political parties. 

More than Hindutva, it is anti- Yadavisation and anti-Jatavisation that has become the BJP plank for the present elections. Non-Yadav OBCs and non- Jatav Dalits have been assiduously wooed by Prime minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shaw. The main focus of both the Gujarati leaders in their election meetings has been attacking the Yadav community for cornering all the jobs and other benefits. They also attacked Mayawati, the Jatav leader, for neglecting the non-Jatav Dalits. They have been fairly successful in bringing about a wedge between the communities.

Across Uttar Pradesh, an anti-Yadav sentiment among the non-Yadav voters had been brewing. The constant refrain of the non-Yadav voters is that only Yadavs were benefited from the Samajwadi Party (SP) government. PM Narendra Modi repeatedly referred to Yadav hegemony under the SP rule.

‘No recruitment happens based on merit. If you are not a Yadav, then you are required to pay lakhs of rupees as bribe to land a government job’ said Praveen Khushwaha in Gorakhpur. Non-Yadav OBCs comprise Maurya, Shakya, Kurmis, Prajapatis, Khushwaha, Rajbhars, Nishads and other small caste groups.

‘The SP leaders move in expensive cars and live luxurious lives,’ complained a non-Yadav employee.

Ever since the BJP swept the parliamentary elections in 2014, the BJP had been working on the strategy. Kesav Prasad Maurya, a OBC, was appointed as UP BJP president much before the present elections. Brahmins and other upper castes are traditionally against the SP. They are either with the BJP or the BSP with a small fraction sailing with the Congress. Brahmins appear to have deserted the BSP this time and came back to the BJP in a big way.

PM Modi did not spare Mayawati in his attacking speeches. Her party, BSP, was described as Behenji Sampathhi Party. Non-Jatav Dalit leaders have been encouraged to defect to the BJP. Mayawati was forced to be defensive in her discourses in which she kept on promising that she would not go for statues or parks anymore and would spend public money on the welfare of the weaker sections.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is very intelligent and he grasped the BJP game plan. But the internecine war in the ruling family had taken away much of the precious time. By the time he got control of the party into his hands, election schedule was announced. He appointed Naresh Kumar, a Kurmi as president of the UP unit of the SP. He gave tickets to a number of Kurmis, Koeris, Jaiswal and Mauryas. Akhilesh had emerged as a clean, development-oriented leader with modern mind. He has acceptability across all the castes. He relies only on his performance and his slogan, ‘Kaam Bolta Hai’. But the sitting MLAs have heavy anti-incumbency factor to reckon with. This factor may damage the chances of the SP to a great extent.

The BSP campaign is systematic and orderly. The party is not media friendly. But the leaders and cadres go about canvassing for their candidates. The Muslims hold the key. The more Muslim voters the BSP attracts, the greater would be benefit the BJP. It is hazardous to guess the outcome to be declared on the 11th, but the BJP is the front runner. People talk in terms of leaders rather than parties. It is Modi or Akhilesh that people talk about.

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