Updated: January 20, 2022 7:08:41 am
Unsettled over the recent exit of prominent OBC leaders, the BJP on Wednesday brought in its allies Apna Dal and Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal (Nishad party), both representing backward communities, to announce a joint fight in Uttar Pradesh and to highlight the initiatives taken by the party governments at the Centre and the state for the communities.
Flanked by Apna Dal leader and Union Minister Anupriya Patel and Nishad party leader Sanjay Nishad, BJP president J P Nadda said the BJP and the two parties would fight the 403 seats together. However, the leaders did not clarify the seat distribution formula.
“In the past five years, Uttar Pradesh has progressed by leaps and bounds in all sectors and on all social indicators. Development, social justice and law and order were the key achievements of the BJP’s double engine government,” Nadda said.
Countering the narrative
The BJP's move to bring in ally leaders at the party headquarters to highlight initiatives and measures taken by the party governments for the OBCs and Dalit is being seen as an attempt to counter the narrative that it did not favour the backwards and Dalits despite the community's overwhelming support for it in the 2017 state elections and 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
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“Five years ago in Uttar Pradesh, there was exodus, hooliganism, kidnapping and mafia with support of the then government. All this anarchy ended in the past five years of BJP rule. Today, there is rule of law in Uttar Pradesh,” Nadda, who was also accompanied by Union minister and in-charge of Uttar Pradesh elections Dharmendra Pradhan, said.
While Patel praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the measures the party governments had taken for social justice and development, Nishad said the central government has taken a number of initiatives, including creation of a separate ministry for the welfare of the fishermen community.
Patel targeted the previous governments for “merely paying lip service to uplift Dalits and OBCs”. She lauded the Modi government for introducing 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in all India medical quota for students.
Nadda said his party has been holding talks with the alliance partners for the past few days in detail. Leaders of Apna Dal and Nishad party held discussions with BJP leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on Wednesday as well.
The BJP’s move to bring in the allies to speak for the party governments comes days after three prominent OBC leaders, who were ministers in the Adityanath government, and 11 MLAs from weaker communities quit the party, accusing it of working against the interests of the backward communities. Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) leader O P Rajbhar, who was part of NDA in the 2017 elections, has also alleged that the BJP was “enemy of the OBCs”. Political observers said this has not only hurt the BJP in its OBC push but also helped opposition SP leader Akhilesh Yadav in his attempts to expand his party’s non-Yadav OBC base in the state.
In 2017, the BJP contested in 384 of the 403 seats, leaving Apna Dal 11 and SBSP eight seats. While the BJP won 312, Apna Dal won nine and SBSP won four seats. Nishad party, formed in 2016, fielded 72 candidates but won only one — Gyanpur in Bhadohi district.
In 2018, when Adityanath vacated the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, Sanjay Nishad’s son Praveen Kumar Nishad contested as an SP candidate and won the seat which was with the BJP since 1989. But in 2019, he won as a BJP candidate from Sant Kabir Nagar.
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