The ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh has deployed more than 175 MLAs, MPs, former state legislators and other leaders from Other Backward Class (OBC) and Dalit communities as part of its ‘samajik sampark (social outreach)’ campaign. These leaders have been instructed to interact with small groups of people from their communities in one to 10 Assembly constituencies, excluding their own seats.
A BJP leader told The Indian Express on Monday that such a campaign could help the party bag the Assembly seats that it narrowly lost in the 2017 elections because of the dominance of Yadavs, Jatav Dalits and Muslims. “If we can consolidate the support of various castes scattered in such constituencies, we can even defeat the SP and BSP in constituencies dominated by Yadavs, Jatav Dalits and Muslims,” he added.
Having narrowly lost in seats dominated by Yadavs, Jatav Dalits, and Muslims in the 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP’s campaign is a move towards making a better connect with the floating votes from non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits. Such outreach will also enable BJP to get their own leaders with strong support among different sub-castes.
Among the constituencies that BJP lost by less than 4,000 votes in 2017 are Matera, Mahmoodabad, Najibabad, Lalganj, Kannauj, Dholana and Chhaprauli.
A senior BJP leader said 25- 30 events were being held every day as part of the programme. Before this campaign, the party also organised 27 samajik pratinidhi sammelans with OBC and Dalit groups. “Localities in urban areas and pockets in rural areas have been identified according to the presence of particular castes there. The focus is on OBCs and SC/ST-populated areas. Each of those over 175 MLAs, MPs, and other senior leaders who have been assigned 1-10 Assembly constituencies outside their constituencies to visit and address samajik sammelans of a group of people of their caste,” said a BJP leader associated with the campaign.
BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said, “Such programmes also create enthusiasm among party workers.” Apart from MLAs and MPs, current and former, the ruling party has also roped in chairmen of boards, corporations, district panchayat chairpersons and block chiefs.