AMONG BSP’S 106 candidates from Other Backward Classes, the dominant Kurmis and Yadavs have gotten the largest share of the pie with the party trying to not only reap the benefits of the ruling SP’s internal feud but also to withstand BJP’s aggressive wooing of the community, which forms over 40 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s population.
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While BSP had fielded eight Yadav candidates in the 2012 UP polls, this time it has given tickets to 17. Party leaders say these candidates would get more votes from Yadavs this time because of the power tussle between Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh.
The party has chosen to field more Yadav candidates despite BSP chief Mayawati often singling out the caste group as the only beneficiary under the SP government. She has called the Yadavs the votebank of the SP and accused the ruling party of working only for the “benefit of one caste”.
Six of the 17 Yadav candidates have been fielded from Firozabad, Mainpuri, Kannauj and Auraiya — the districts with largest concentration of the caste group. Among the rest, most would contest from east UP’s Azamgarh, Ballia and Ghazipur.
When it comes to the Kurmis, BSP has fielded 29 candidates this year while it was 27 in 2012. Allotting more seats to Kurmis is likely to hit BJP, which has been trying to woo the group — one of the biggest among the OBCs. Last year, BJP had inducted Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel as a minister of state in the Modi government. It had also appointed Sitapur MP Rajesh Verma, who belongs to Kurmi caste, as the head of its backward class cell in UP.
The BSP, meanwhile, has reduced the number of Lodh candidates from nine in 2012 to just four this year — an apparent reaction to the return of Kalyan Singh, the most influential leader from the caste, to the BJP in 2014. In the 2012 polls, Singh had fielded candidates from his own party, Jan Kranti Party.
Mayawati has also significantly reduced the number of candidates from Most Backward Castes. The party has chosen only 17 candidates from Kushwaha caste, also known by surnames Maurya, Shakya and Saini. In 2012, the party had selected 25 candidates from these castes. Sources say this is a fallout of BJP appointing Keshav Prasad Maurya as its state president and BSP general secretary Swami Prasad Maurya joining the BJP, along with a number of leaders from his caste.
Further, the party fielded only three from the Rajbhar caste. In 2012, the figure was five. Sources said this is a possible fallout of an alliance between BJP and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party of Om Prakash Rajbhar, who has influence in the Azamgarh and its surrounding areas.
In west UP, BSP has chosen six each Gujjar and Jat candidates. While the number of Gujjar candidates has increased by one, the figure for Jats has come down by one.
Mayawati has not fielded any Jat candidate in Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor and Shamli districts where she has chosen Muslims for most seats.