When the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi made a reference to his being a ‘backward’ too at many of his election rallies across Uttar Pradesh, he only underscored the importance of the votes of the backward castes that form around 52 per cent of the total electorate in the state and are a decisive factor in as many as 27 of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats.
The BJP, which was eying to capture UP with the help of the ‘backward caste’ voters, became evident when the party struck an electoral alliance with a caste-based outfit Apna Dal, that thrives on ‘kurmi’ voters, and gave it two Lok Sabha seats in return for its support at around half a dozen seats in the eastern UP, where the ‘kurmis’ were in sizable numbers.
The Samajwadi Party (SP), which currently holds the maximum number of seats (7) in the region where the backwards call the shots, has recently undertaken a ‘Social Justice Yatra' for the ‘most backwards’. UP minister Gayatri Prajapati, himself a ‘backward’, had led the ‘yatra’.
The BSP, which is considered to be a party of dalits mainly, went a step further. It appointed Ram Achal Rajbhar, a member of backward community, its state president to woo the voters of this caste. The BSP, which has currently five MPs from backward castes from the state, was in the forefront of organising ‘caste-based meetings’ before the same was banned by the Allahabad High Court.
The Congress also does not lag behind in wooing the backward community in the state. State leaders say that the party ‘tolerates’ Beni Prasad Verma only because he hails from a backward community and commands considerable influence over them in some Lok Sabha seats in the eastern region. The party recently got the government to give reservation to the ‘Jat’ community only to woo the voters.
Besides the Apna Dal, there were many other outfits that thrived only on the support of the backward castes. The Bharat Samaj Party, Mahan Dal, Phoolan Sena Janvadi were some such outfits, which were in demand only for their ability to attract the votes of their castes and get them transferred to other parties.