Shah’s Choice of UP BJP Chief to Dampen Ni­tish’s UP Pitch

Phulpur MP may just be the fuel needed to fire po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions of Ko­eris against Ya­dav dom­i­nance of OBC politics in UP

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

New Delhi: Bi­har CM Ni­tish Ku­mar’s de­signs of mak­ing a ro­bust foray into UP may have got its big­gest so­cial engi­neer­ing jolt when BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah ap­pointed KP Mau­rya as the party’s state chief ahead of next year’s assem­bly polls.

Apart from Ku­mar’s sec­u­lar cre­den­tials and im­age of good governance, the JD(U) leader’s en­try into UP hinged on his mo­bil­i­sa­tion of LavKush (read Kurmi & Ko­eri com­mu­ni­ties), with which he suc­cess­fully chal­lenged Lalu Prasad’s Mus­lim-Ya­dav com­bi­na­tion dur­ing the late 1990s. Signs to this ef­fect came when Ku­mar, who is from the Kurmi com­mu­nity, trav­elled to Ghazipur in UP in Fe­bru­ary, os­ten­si­bly at the in­vi­ta­tion of the Sam­rat Ashok Club but with an eye on woo­ing the Ko­eris, who claim KingAshoka­isfromtheir­com­mu­nity.

Shah’s choice of Mau­rya, a Ko­eri, as thes­tateBJPchief,may­comeasas­pan­ner in the works for Ku­mar’s goal of mak­ing the JD(U) the van­guard of the po­lit­i­calam­bi­tion­sof theKo­eris­inUP. While Ku­mar gave promi­nence to Kurmi-Kush­waha can­di­dates dur­ing theBi­har­polls,suchas­trat­e­gy­maynot cut much ice with the Ko­eris in UP. Un­likeinBi­har,theKur­misandKo­eris have not worked in tan­dem in UP. So, while Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav’s rul­ing SP made a rel­a­tively strong foothold among Kurmi com­mu­nity, the Mayawati-led BSP has a bet­ter pres­ence among the Ko­eris. SP Mau­rya and BS Kush­waha have been among the prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal Ko­eri lead­ers from the BSP.

Ko­eris are con­sid­ered the fourth-largest po­lit­i­cally or­gan­ised peas­ant com­mu­nity(af­terYa­davs,Jat­sandKur­mis) in the state. Ac­cord­ing to the 1931 caste cen­sus, the Ko­eris con­sti­tuted 3.1% of

KUR­MIS & KO­ERIS IN UP

the state’s pop­u­la­tion, al­most equal to the Kur­mis (3.5%). In com­par­i­son, the Ya­davpop­u­la­tion­waspegge­dat8.7%. “Mau­rya, Kush­waha, Shakya and Saini are some of the com­mon sur- names be­long­ing to sim­i­lar peas­ant oc­cu­pa­tions spread across UP,” SPS Baghel, na­tional pres­i­dent of the BJP’s OBC Mor­cha, told ET. The SP and the BJP made in­roads into the Ko­eri sup­port base af­ter BS Kush­waha’s fall from grace in the wake of the Na­tional Ru­ral Health Mis­sion­cor­rup­tion­scan­dal.Whilethe BJP in­ducted BS Kush­waha ahead of the 2012 assem­bly elec­tion, it had to quickly side­line him af­ter an out­cry over his al­leged NRHM links. Mu­layam un­suc­cess­fully fielded Kush­waha’s wife Shivkanya from Ghazipur in the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions with an eye on Ko­eri votes. Ke­shavMau­rya­may­bea­green­horn, but Modi and Shah are hop­ing the Phulpur MP may just be the fuel needed to fire the po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions of the Ko­eri com­mu­nity against the Ya­dav’s dom­i­nance of OBC politics in UP.

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