With opposition parties in the state trying to stitch a grand alliance for the Lok Sabha polls next year, the BJP is holding outreach programmes to consolidate its vote base among the Other Backward Communities (OBC).
The saffron party has organised meetings of different OBC castes where the leaders informed the representatives about the government’s policies and how these would benefit them, a party leader said.
In the past one week, the BJP convened seven such meetings to reach out to people from Vishwakarma, Pal, Baghel, Lodh, Sahu, Rathore, Arkvanshi and Bhurji Samaj. In the coming week, the saffron party will hold seven more caste-wise ‘sammelans’ in the state capital. It will end with a meeting with the Yadavs on September 15.
The idea is to assure each and every OBC caste that the party cares for them, their issues and their rights, senior party leaders said.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, as well as Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, have attended some of these meetings.
“We are informing the representatives of the backward classes about the party policies. We are telling them how the OBC commission has been given constitutional right by our party, the income limit has been increased from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh and how we have eased the process to get the OBC caste certificates,” said Rajesh Verma, BJP MP and also state president of BJP OBC Morcha.
Vijay Bahadur Pathak, general secretary and in charge of OBC Morcha, said the state government is working on forming boards that would cater to specific skills. A board has already been formed for the upliftment of the Kumhars, he added.
Asked about the participation of the alliance partners such as Apna Dal, which represents Patel and Kurmi, and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), which represents Rajbhars, Verma said the BJP had invited them to these sammelans. While representatives of Apna Dal have attended some of these meetings, SBSP skipped all of them, sources said.
Denying claims that he was invited to these sammelans, SBSP leader Om Prakash Rajbhar said, “I was not invited. Forget about invitation, in the past one year has anyone seen a joint poster of SBSP and BJP leaders here? Has a joint meeting ever convened?” However, Rajbhar denied rumours that he would join any other front.
Criticising BJP’s sammelans, Rajbhar said, “What purpose will these sammelans serve? There are at least one to two lakh voters from each community in each Lok Sabha constituency. Calling 10 of them to Lucknow will not do any good. I personally feel that quota within quota is the only solution.”