WITH Samajwadi Party, BSP and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) coming together as part of a political realignment in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the ruling BJP is moving to tap the iconography of socialist leader and former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur.
As part of this, UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who also holds the portfolio of the Public Works Department, said in Lucknow Thursday that he will name at least one road in each district of the state after Thakur.
Thakur, who passed away in 1988, is considered one of the leading architects of the political mobilisation of extremely backward classes (EBCs) in Bihar. Current Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in fact, took a leaf from his politics and mobilised non-Yadav OBC communities as a cohesive political bloc that forms the core support base of the JD(U) in Bihar.
The BJP, in UP, too, is trying to consolidate its non-Yadav OBC base to take on the entrenched Samajwadi Party. Maurya, who hails from the non-Yadav OBC community, made this announcement to a gathering drawn from the nai (barber) community — to which Karpoori Thakur belonged.
In fact, the BJP has decided to reach out to OBC castes in UP by holding Samajik Pratinidhi Baithaks, as many as 40 meetings with caste representatives in the state capital. These meetings started on Tuesday and today’s was the third meeting.
Addressing the gathering, Maurya said that the Congress, SP and BSP, were trying to stop Narendra Modi from becoming Prime Minister again and so OBCs should unite in Modi’s support.
The meeting on Wednesday was attended by leaders of Rajbhar caste and a meeting of Prajapati community was organised on Tuesday. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressed both these meetings. In the meeting on Wednesday, the CM announced a memorial for Raja Suheldeo, the 11th century king of Shravasti who is reported to be from the Rajbhar community.
BJP’s OBC wing state general secretary Chiranjiv Chaurasiya told The Indian Express that more such meetings will be organised at the district level for smaller OBC castes. “These programmes are aimed to attract OBCs support for BJP in the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
BJP state general secretary and OBC wing in-charge Vijay Bahadur Pathak said these meetings will also be used to spread word on the government’s achievements.
During the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had praised each MP for securing Parliament’s approval for the Bill seeking Constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). He reportedly asked party MPs to conduct at least 50 public meetings in their respective regions and ensure that at least 1,000 people garland each MP crediting the party for the OBC Bill.