OBCs turn new Dalits in Uttar Pradesh polls

OBCs turn new Dalits in Uttar Pradesh polls

Other Backward Castes (OBCs) have now become the new Dalits in Uttar Pradesh political narrative as the poll campaign strategies of major players showed.

That the OBCs found maximum traction in state political discourse was largely due to the SP-Congresss alliance eventually getting perceived as a combination of Muslims and Yadavs only. This was not what Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had expected by projecting himself as "vikas purush" to attract floating voters. To top it, he had billed the partnership with Rahul as a platform of youth for the future.

At the same time, BSP was too focussed to woo Muslims and fielded 100 candidates from the minority community in the elections. In the process, former chief minister Mayawati, who does not believe in media blitzkrieg, could not counter BJP's systematic onslaught on smaller castes such as Maurya and Rajbhar that were aligned with the Dalit party.

With Jatavs sticking with the BSP and Yadavs by and large remaining with SP, up for target were MBCs (Most Backward Castes) outside these two folds throughout the seven-phase campaigning, which ended on Monday. The polling in the last phase for 40 seats in seven districts, including Varanasi, will take place on Wednesday.
The MBCs constitute 49% of the voters in this region.

Much before the assembly elections, BJP weaned away local satraps like Swamy Prasad Maurya, shaking the BSP, which prior to 2014 elections, had stood its ground primarily because of the social engineering done by Kanshi Ram. The BSP founder had brought un-attached, underprivileged castes to the party fold to make the social combination formidable.

Ram Dular Sonkar, a resident of Badhupur village of Saidpur in Gazipur district, vows to vote for Elephant, the symbol of the BSP. He says his entire community of Dalit sub-caste 'Chamar' are voting for Mayawati because only in her regime they get beneficial schemes denied to them under SP rule. The BJP, capitalising on its 2014 Lok Sabha poll gains, made Keshav Prasad Maurya its UP chief replacing Laxmikant Vajpayee, a Brahmin. BJP chief Amit Shah also fielded more than 130 candidates other than Yadavs. That apart, the BJP also believes that demonetisation has helped the party to consolidate these sections of have-nots .

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