Indian Express

Mulayam woos upper castes alongside Muslims with SP poll manifesto

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Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and other party members release the manifesto in Lucknow Wednesday. Pramod Singh Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and other party members release the manifesto in Lucknow Wednesday. (IE Photo: Pramod Singh)

The Samajwadi Party manifesto woos upper-caste voters by promising them a commission to redress their problems. For Muslims, the manifesto assures speedy justice to victims of the Gujarat riots besides amending the Constitution for reservation in proportion to Muslims’ population.

Released Wednesday, the manifesto also promises to make education free and a strategy for controlling prices — that of any commodity cannot exceed one-and-a-half times the manufacturing cost.

“We have commissions for SC/STs, minorities, women but a large number of people from the upper caste are poor and harassed. For protecting their rights, an upper caste commission will be set up,” Mulayam Singh Yadav said. The promise of the commission is aimed at weaning a core vote-bank from BJP. The SP has been accusing the BJP of sidelining Brahmins and sent its minister Manoj Pandey to hold meetings across the state.

For Muslims, a core SP vote bank, the 24-page manifesto promises not only proportionate reservation but also inclusion of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians in the SC list. It pledges Muslims a 15-per-cent job quota in police and PAC, and promises release of Muslims accused in fake terror cases. Other assurances include a stringent law against communal violence, implementation of the Srikrishan Report and removal of communal chapters from school textbooks, besides speedy justice to Gujarat victims.

The language, like the promises, are similar to the “Musalman aur Adivasi” section in the 2009 manifesto. Mulayam promised reservation in the private sector and punishment for those who do not comply. The manifesto repeats a 2009 promise to include 17 most backward classes in the SC list, and special status to Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal. “Now a leader (Modi) is also claiming he belongs to these MBCs. But what has he done for these castes?” Mulayam said.

The SP has promised to prevent misuse of the SC/ST, anti-dowry and the recently amended anti-rape laws. “Fake cases are lodged… we will stop the misuse of such laws,” Mulayam said.

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