Blue­print for UP

The ‘party with dif­fer­ence’ and its ally Apna Dal had won 73 of the state’s 80 seats in 2014, and is will­ing to change about 20 can­di­dates in or­der to re­tain that num­ber in 2019

The Day After - - CONTENT - By Asit Manohar

Eight months be­fore the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has started elab­o­rate plan­ning to try and re­peat its un­prece­dented 2014 per­for­mance in Ut­tar Pradesh. Based on an in­ter­nal re­port, the party is will­ing to change its can­di­dates on about 20 seats.

The BJP and its ally, Apna Dal, had won 73 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats, re­duc­ing the Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) to five, the Congress to two, and the Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP) to zero. This played a huge part in Naren­dra Modi be­com­ing Prime Min­is­ter with a clear ma­jor­ity in 2014.

Last month, BJP gen­eral sec­re­tary in-charge of or­ga­ni­za­tion Ram Lal, ad­dress­ing party work­ers of the Avadh re­gion in Lucknow, said they needed to work hard to match the per­for­mance, which party chief Amit Shah has termed ‘Mis­sion 73’.

Sources in the UP BJP told that the plan was to field some min­is­ters from Yogi Adityanath’s state gov­ern­ment as Lok Sabha can­di­dates. This, they said, would neu­tralise the im­pact of anti-in­cum­bency. The fact that the new can­di­dates would be fa­mil­iar faces would also help.

“Some min­is­ters have shown in­ter­est; we also have plans for some oth­ers,” said a UP BJP of­fice bearer who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied. “How­ever, the fi­nal de­ci­sion will be taken by our na­tional pres­i­dent Amit Shah.”

MIN­IS­TERS IN FRAY

State health min­is­ter Sid­dharth Nath Singh is one of those who has ex­pressed in­ter­est in con­test­ing from ei­ther Al­la­habad or Phulpur Lok Sabha seat. Singh, grand­son of former PM Lal Ba­hadur Shas­tri (who rep­re­sented Al­la­habad

twice in Par­lia­ment), is the MLA from Al­la­habad West, which falls un­der the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat. In 2014, Ke­shav Prasad Mau­rya had won Phulpur for the BJP; he later va­cated the seat to be­come deputy chief min­is­ter in 2017, and the BJP lost the seat in the by-elec­tion ear­lier this year.

Stamp and civil avi­a­tion min­is­ter Nand Gopal Nandi also wants to con­test from Al­la­habad; he had con­tested in 2014 on a Congress ticket and lost. He switched to the BJP ahead of the 2017 assem­bly polls and won from Al­la­habad South.

Seven-time MLA and in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment min­is­ter Satish Ma­hana is in the reck­on­ing for the Kan­pur Lok Sabha seat. Ma­hana had con­tested from Kan­pur in 2009, but lost to the Congress’s Sriprakash Jaiswal. Ma­hana won the Kan­pur Cantt assem­bly seat five suc­ces­sive times be­tween 1991 and 2012. In 2012, he switched to Ma­hara­jpur, and has won it twice.

Shrikant Sharma, en­ergy min­is­ter and MLA from Mathura, is eye­ing the Mathura Lok Sabha seat cur­rently held by ac­tor-turned-politi­cian Hema Malini. State BJP lead­ers feel that the pub­lic per­cep­tion is against Hema Malini and she could be re­placed. Sharma had also tried for the Lok Sabha ticket in 2014.

DI­VIDE AND RULE

Apart from pitching state min­is­ters fa­mil­iar with the pub­lic, BJP is also plan­ning to tar­get OBCs other than Ya­dav and SCs other than Jatav as SP is largely known as party of Ya­davas while Mayawati is a Jatav. By do­ing this, the BJP is plan­ning to make SP and BSP as party of the caste their re­spec­tive lead­ers be­long. So, like the UP Assem­bly Polls, the BJP is plan­ning to share seats with its small caste based var­i­ous par­ties and di­vide the SC and OBC block.

There­fore, to counter Akhilesh Ya­dav, BJP is tar­get­ing other than Ya­dav OBC caste like Ka­haar, Kashyap, Ke­wat, Nishad, Gond, Bhar, Pra­jap­ati, Ra­jb­har, Bind etc. In fact, the UP gov­ern­ment led by Yogi Adityanath has rec­om­mended the cen­tre to add 17 more castes into the OBC cat­e­gory in the state. These castes in­clude Ka­haar, Kashyap, Ke­wat, Nishad, Gond, Bhar, Pra­jap­ati, Ra­jb­har, Bind, Batham,Turha, Man­jhi, Mal­lah, Kumhar, Dhee­var, Dheemar and Machua. If the UP gov­ern­ment’s rec­om­men­da­tion is al­lowed by the Cen­tre (which looks likely by end of 2018), then it would be a master stroke to counter the ral­ly­ing of OBCs and Dal­its with the SP-BSP al­liance as both par­ties are at daggers drawn on the is­sue.

The BJP is plan­ning to di­vide the 82 OBCs into three cat­e­gories so that all caste can get equal ben­e­fit of the 27 per­cent reser­va­tion meant for the OBCs stip­u­lated un­der the Man­dal Com­mis­sion. Com­ment­ing upon the UP gov­ern­ment move over the OBC reser­va­tion, se­nior cabi­net min­is­ter O P Ra­jb­har and Suheldev Bhar­tiya Sa­maj Party chief said, “The 27 per­cent quota will be di­vided into three cat­e­gories: pich­hada (back­wards) with four castes, ati pichda (very back­wards) with 19 castes and sar­vad­hik pichda (most back­ward) with 59 castes.” This cat­e­go­riza­tion of the OBC would pose se­ri­ous chal­lenge to the dom­i­nance of Ya­davas, SPs most re­li­able vote bank since its in­cep­tion.

In fact, of­fi­cial sources said the state gov­ern­ment was pre­par­ing to rec­om­mend shift­ing of 17 OBC castes in Sched­uled Caste list and the Cen­tre this time was all set to ac­cept it by re­mov­ing le­gal ir­ri­tants. This move of the UP gov­ern­ment for­ti­fies our in­for­ma­tion that UP BJP is tar­get­ing other than Jatav SCs un­der its di­vide and rule tac­tics, which paid huge div­i­dends to the ‘party with dif­fer­ence’ dur­ing UP Assem­bly Polls.

Vote share of the OBC in UP is 40 per­cent which in­cludes 8 per­cent Ya­davas while SC vote share is 20 per­cent out of which Jatavas are around 11 per­cent. Mus­lims are around 17 per­cent. BJP has a loyal vote bank of near 36 per­cent which con­sists of Brah­mins (9 per­cent), Thakurs (6 per­cent), Tyagi-Bhu­mi­har (2 per­cent), Baniya (2 per­cent), Jat (2 per­cent) and oth­ers (1 per­cent), Kurmi (3.5 per­cent­age), Lodh (2.5 per­cent), Koir­iKachhi (3.5 per­cent), Mal­lah-Kashyap (2.5 per­cent), OBC Baniya 2 (per­cent). So, con­sol­i­da­tion of other than Ya­dav OBCs and other than Jatav SCs would hold key in 2019 Lok Sabha Polls and both BJP and ‘Grand Al­liance’ are try­ing hard to reach out to the vot­ers of these castes.

There­fore, to counter Akhilesh Ya­dav, BJP is tar­get­ing other than Ya­dav OBC caste like Ka­haar, Kashyap, Ke­wat, Nishad, Gond, Bhar, Pra­jap­ati, Ra­jb­har, Bind etc. In fact, the UP gov­ern­ment led by Yogi Adityanath...

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