Updated: November 26, 2021 6:13:25 am
With the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections months away, all political parties in the state are trying to woo castes beyond their core vote base in order to set social equations in their favour.
The SP, looking to come back to power, is reaching out to non-Yadav OBCs. In its recently announced state executive committee, the party included only four Yadav while at least 26 leaders were from non-Yadav backward castes, over a dozen were from upper castes, 11 were Muslim and eight were Dalits.
The SP has also launched at least seven yatras over the past two months, assigning its leaders and coalition partners — mostly from non-Yadav backward castes — to reach out to masses. Former minister Ram Kishore Bind is holding social conventions with leaders of the Bind, Nishad, Kevat and Mallah communities.
Rajpal Kashyap, the president of the SP’s UP backward castes cell, has taken out SP-Dalit yatras, while Naresh Uttam Patel, the president of SP’s UP unit and is a Kurmi, has held a Kisan-Nauwjawan (farmer-youth) Patel yatra which concluded Sunday — Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary.
Patel said, “SP is a party of all classes and sections. Rival parties create propaganda by calling SP a party of Yadavs. We have leadership and support from all castes and communities. Yatras have been launched to reach across society, including farmers, youths and others.”
In an attempt to woo the Nishad community, SP president Akhilesh Yadav met Moola Devi, the mother of bandit-turned-politician, the late SP MP Phoolan Devi.
Party state secretary Sanjay Vidyarthi Savita is holding public meetings with representatives of Savita community (naai, barber) that are identified by their surnames as Yangyik, Sen and Salmani. Sanjay claims that the community comprises around 10,000 voters in each Assembly constituency and has held at least two public meetings in each constituency across 51 districts.
“As BJP has betrayed backward castes, I am appealing to my community people to support SP in the 2022 elections. Naai community has regular connections with all castes and communities because of their profession and hence they can be a good messenger,” he said.
Kehsav Dev Maurya, an OBC leader who is the president of regional outfit Mahan Dal that is in alliance with the SP, had recently concluded his month-long Jan Akrosh yatra from Pilibhit to Etawah. Likewise, OBC leader Sanjay Chauhan, president of another ally Janwadi Socialist Party, in August had launched a Janwadi Kranti Yatra from Ballia.
Former BSP leader Indrajeet Saroj, who has now switched over to the SP, is running a Janadesh yatra to connect with Dalits, along with poor and deprived sections of society.
The BJP has held social conventions for OBCs sub-castes, including Churasiyas, Nishads, Kevats, Kashyaps, Mallahs, Swarnkars, Kurmis, Patels, Gangwars, Pals, Baghels, Naais, Sens, Savitas, Kasaudhans, Shivhares, Vishwakarmas, Lodhs and Prajapatis.
Among SCs, BJP held conventions for the Sonkar, Kori, Jatav, Pasi, Valmiki and Kanaujia communities. The party has also started projecting its national vice-president Baby Rani Maurya from the Jatav community as its Dalit face by holding ceremonies across the state.
With former ally Om Prakash Rajbhar joining hands with Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP is also wooing smaller parties catering to Rajbhars, Nishads and other OBCs from eastern UP.
Meanwhile, the BSP has fallen back on its old trusted formula of 2007, when the message of Brahmin-Dalit bhaichara (brotherhood) had propelled the party to power with absolute majority.
Brahmins constitute 13 per cent of the population of UP, while Dalits constitute 23 per cent of the votes.
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