Cong Can­di­dates’ List Rides High on Caste Cal­cu­la­tion

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - CL.Manoj@ times­

Party giv­ing max­i­mum rep­re­sen­ta­tion to Dal­its, Mus­lims and up­per castes; Dal­its form largest so­cial seg­ment with 28 nom­i­nees

New Delhi: A close look at the Congress list of can­di­dates for Ut­tar Pradesh shows the party giv­ing max­i­mum rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the Dal­its, Mus­lims and up­per castes, which used to form the party’s rain­bow con­stituency dur­ing its hey­days.

The party on Satur­day re­leased a list of 11 can­di­dates, tak­ing the to­tal to 107 as its lead­ers con­tinue to be in talks with ally Sa­ma­jwadi Party to avoid whatth­ey­called“friend­ly­con­tests”in a cou­ple of seats where both have fielded their nom­i­nees. The SP had of­fered the Congress 105 seats.

In a state where caste con­sid­er­a­tions ride high dur­ing elec­toral bat­tles, Dal­its form the largest so­cial seg­ment on the Congress list with 28 nom­i­nees. Keep­ing in mind the re­ported un­ease among­manyDal­it­sub-casteswith­the Jatav-dom­i­nated Bahu­jan Sa­maj can­di­dates from among non-Jatavs

to con­sol­i­date Mus­lims along SP’s Ya­dav base cru­cial, Congress has fielded 19 from mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity

up­per castes with 15 Brah­min and 14 Ra­jput nom­i­nees as bid to chip away BJP core base

Party, the Congress has taken care to field 18 of its Dalit can­di­dates from the sub-castes, in­clud­ing Valmiki (5), Pasi (3), Dhobi (3) and Kathe­ria, Kori, Kol and Du­sadh (one each), while nom­i­nat­ing only 10 from Jatavs. Half the Dalit can­di­dates are un­der 45 years of age, a source in­volved in the ex­er­cise said. S u p p o r t e d by Ra h u l Gandhi, an AICC think tank un­der the chair­man of party’s SC depart­ment, K Raju, has been work­ing on a ‘Mis­sion on youth lead­er­ship build­ing among Dal­its’ in UP, as part of ef­forts to re­pair its Dalit base in the state that­washuge­ly­dent­ed­byMayawati’s BSP.

If one ma­jor at­trac­tion of the Akhilesh Ya­dav-led SP to align with the Congress was the pre­sump­tion that the lat­ter can help reign in a large Mus­lim con­sol­i­da­tion along with SP’s Ya­dav votes, the Congress has re s p o nded by f i e l d i ng 1 9 Mus­lims. With BJP’s core fo­cus on up­per castes and non-Ya­dav OBCs, it is cru­cial for the Congress to chip away some up­per caste votes for the

al­liance. Its list, un­der­stand­ably, has as­man­yas35­can­di­dates­from­var­i­ous up­per caste com­mu­ni­ties: 15 Brah­mins, 14 Ra­jputs, four Vaish and two Bhu­mi­hars. In­ci­den­tally, among theAssem­bl­y­seg­mentscomin­gun­der Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s Varanasi Lok Sabha con­stituency, Congress has fielded some en­trenched up­per caste lead­ers, such as Ra­jeshKu­marMishra,Ajay Rai and Lalitesh­pathi Tri­pathi, even as there is con­sid­er­able op­po­si­tion to the re-nom­i­na­tion of Anil Sri­vas­tav f rom Varanasi Can­ton­ment seat de­spite his los­ing the seat thrice. Of the 11 OBC can­di­dates on the list, only four be­long to the Ya­davs. Among the rest, five are from the Kurmi com­mu­nity and two from Jat. There are also four from Pun­jabi com­mu­ni­ties. It has also re-nom­i­nated al­most all its 20 plus sit­ting MLAs, even as the list also fig­ures a few who re­cently joined the party from ri­val sides.

The Congress-SP lead­er­ship is hop­ing to trip the BJP chal­lenge and over­come the in­cum­bency bur­den by bank­ing on ral­ly­ing a for­mi­da­ble Mus­lim-Ya­dav con­sol­i­da­tion around the al­liance. They are also hop­ing to bring in some Dalit and Brah­min votes along with the­good­willa­m­on­ga­sec­tionof ur­ban youth.

On the flip side, the in­ner wor­ries of the Congress is whether the up­per caste and non-Ya­dav OBCs, feel­ing let out­bythe­huge­lyYa­dav-pa­tro­n­isedSP rule, will pre­fer the BJP or the BSP. Hav­ing left nearly 300 seats to its foe­turned-ally SP, the Congress lead­er­ship also has a task to en­sure that its tra­di­tional sup­port­ers, es­pe­cially those who were as­pir­ing to fight on Congress tick­ets in the seats ‘con­ceded’ to the part­ner, do not re­sist vot­ing for SP nom­i­nees. Sim­i­larly, Akhilesh Ya­dav has to en­sure that his party’s Ya­dav base, tra­di­tion­ally fed on an­tiCongress sen­ti­ments, voted for the ‘hand’ sym­bol of the Congress. As of now, the lead­er­ships of both par­ties are unit­edly work­ing over­time to ce­ment the al­liance, from top to bot­tom.


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