Following the exit of several Backward Caste leaders and MLAs from the party over the last few months, the BSP has begun organising public meetings in all 75 districts of the state in an attempt to reach out to Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The party’s public meeting in Lucknow district on Saturday will be presided over by former state president Dayaram Pal, who hails from the backward Gadariya caste. He had resigned from the post of BSP state president in 2000 after accusing Mayawati, then its national vice-president, of being “high-handed” and “autocratic”. He had returned to party in 2003 and was appointed the chairperson of the Remote Sensing Application Centre after formation of the BSP government in 2007.
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Pal confirmed that he will preside over the meeting where BSP general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui will be the
chief guest. The party will hold similar programmes across the state in the coming few days. Among the prominent OBC leaders who will be part of these rallies are former speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar, BSP state president Ram Achal Rajbhar, former minister Lalji Verma, former MP RK Singh Patel, and former MLC Pratap Singh Baghel.
Party sources said that though the SP was “losing its grip” on backward castes, especially non-Yadav castes, more so because of the widening rift between Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and party state president Shivpal Yadav, BSP has not been in a position to take these sections into its fold. An OBC leader of the party from west UP admitted that the Backward Castes remain a “weak link” for the party as the BJP has been aggressively courting them. Nearly a dozen OBC MLAs have left the BSP since this summer, including Swami Prasad Maurya, who was the party’s national general secretary and regarded as its OBC face.
On the death anniversary of BR Ambedkar on December 6, Mayawati had tried to persuade the OBCs to not support BJP, alleging that the party wants to re-establish the Hindu caste system in which both Backward Castes and Dalits were treated as “shudras” by upper castes.
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