Lucknow: Is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bending 'backwards', literally, in
Uttar Pradesh to realize its national political ambitions?
They are tailoring an "all inclusive" major action plan to
pitchfork its backward caste leaders as they undertake a major
campaign in the country's most populous state.
Insiders say that with UP accounting for 80 Lok Sabha seats, party
leaders are leaving nothing to chance for the parliamentary polls
less than two years away.
"We are not just hinging on middle class anger against corruption
and price rise but are also working on a serious vote bank plan
that includes wooing the backward class in Uttar Pradesh," party
So, while the BJP has almost stitched up a deal with its former
satrap Kalyan Singh, a Lodh, to return to its fold, it will hold
six 'backward conventions' across the state.
The brain behind the first of its kind convention are leaders like
Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti and Om Prakash Singh and party's
national president Nitin Gadkari.
"We have the blessings of the national leadership and we are sure
that the backward castes, like in the 1990s, would be rallying
behind the BJP this time," said another senior leader.
With Kalyan Singh's return, the party aims at mobilizing the
support of the Lodh community, which holds sway in over seven
districts of central Uttar Pradesh.
The party wants the other backward classes (OBCs) to close ranks
with it as they feel they are sandwiched between a Dalit champion
in Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati and a Yadav-Muslim
obsessed Samajwadi Party.
"Many in the OBCs are finding themselves on the fringes of
political discourse. We are out to tap them," a BJP strategist,
who did not wish to be identified, told IANS.
The party has assigned the task of wooing OBCs to its senior
leaders including Uma Bharti, Hukum Singh, Nepal Singh, Swatantra
Dev Singh and Prem Lata Katiyar.
The party is also promoting OBC leaders by giving them posts in
the party hierarchy.
Grass-hoppers from other parties like Ram Narayan Sahu, who after
decades of being with SP switched over to the BJP, are being given
plum posts in the party.
These conventions were kickstarted by the first backward
conference in Amroha Nov 4 and will be followed by a string of
them in Agra, Gorakhpur, Mirzapur and Jhansi.
BJP's Sushil Shakya told IANS that these conventions were aimed at
telling the OBCs that the BJP was with them thick and thin.
Party leaders, however, admit that while in the past too the party
leadership had dabbled with the backwards, the moves had fallen
flat as it lacked a viable OBC face.
"We need to have a pan-UP leadership. Hopefully, with the return
of Kalyan Singh, the party would get a boost," said a leader.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)