It will be unwise to leap to conclusions on the idea of the exit of a slew of OBC leaders from the BJP. As of now, the OBC revolt is a small one and has not resulted in an explosion.
The exit of a slew of OBC leaders from the BJP on the eve of a vital Meeting election has given the Uttar Pradesh potboiler an sudden twist. Out of the blue, the celebration which exit polls had predicted would comfortably win a second time period, not appears invincible.
Its formidable rainbow social coalition of higher and non-Yadav different backward castes, that swept it to victory 5 years in the past, is displaying indicators of unravelling. There’s an eerie feeling of déjà vu as UP politics threatens to come back full circle again to the Nineteen Nineties when Mandal versus Mandir cleaved the state alongside caste and communal strains.
The BJP has sought to dismiss the current dramatic developments as the same old “aya Ram gaya Ram” politics of politicians asking for an excessive amount of. Somebody needed a ticket for his son which the celebration refused to present, its spokespersons claimed. Others had been afraid of being denied nominations to contest within the upcoming elections, they stated.
A dispassionate view signifies in any other case. The three ministers who’ve stop to this point, Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini are leaders with appreciable political heft.
The primary two had been welcomed by the BJP with open arms from the BSP simply earlier than the final Meeting elections due to the affect they carry with their communities. In truth, Maurya, who represents the vital Khushwaha neighborhood (estimated to represent about 6 % of UP’s inhabitants), set the ball rolling for the BJP to mop up the help of the non-Yadav backward castes and was key to crafting the 2017 profitable social method. Considerably, he performed an identical function for Mayawati when he was within the BSP and is claimed to have contributed to her victory in 2007 by weaning his personal caste and smaller OBCs away from SP to her celebration, notably in jap UP from the place he hails.
Equally, Chauhan represents the Nonia caste which is roughly 3 % of the state’s inhabitants. Just like the Khushwahas who’ve their very own celebration within the Mahan Dal, the Nonias too have an outfit referred to as the Prithviraj Jan Shakti Celebration. However simply as Maurya is the tallest Khushwaha chief, so too is Chauhan the most important Nonia chief in UP.
The exit of Saini is a shock and should harm the BJP. The Sainis have been the celebration’s most loyal voters, their help courting again to the times of the Ram mandir motion. They haven’t flinched since.
The lack of these three leaders may properly be a crippling blow to the BJP. The vehemence with which they’ve slammed the BJP and the Yogi Adityanath authorities for his or her anti-OBC insurance policies and their failure to satisfy the aspirations of the disadvantaged courses is prone to set the tone for a return to Mandal politics however with a more recent and extra unifying narrative than the Nineteen Nineties.
It’s attention-grabbing that SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has been avoiding all speak of caste and is peppering his election marketing campaign with references to the poor, the disadvantaged and farmers. Whereas his rhetoric has a powerful Samajwadi flavour, as a substitute of a divisive Mandal narrative, his outreach to smaller OBC teams and events present a shrewd understanding of the caste matrix.
Yadav has already tied up an alliance with one other influential OBC celebration, Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Celebration. It now appears like each Maurya and Chauhan are heading in direction of SP. Akhilesh can also be within the strategy of wooing the Nishads and the Kurmis, each of that are additionally vital OBC teams.
Until not too long ago, it appeared that the non-Yadav OBCs had been an unshakable a part of the BJP’s social coalition crafted on the communal enchantment of Hindutva. Nonetheless, 5 years of the Yogi authorities together with debilitating missteps by the Modi authorities appear to have alienated these teams.
The rumblings have been there for a while. There’s been speak of Yogi’s oppressive Thakur Raj, rising lawlessness which leaves the poorer castes susceptible to police high-handedness, the tragic toll that the mismanagement of Covid-19 took of the lives of the poor in UP, poor dealing with of the financial system beginning with demonetisation which has led to unstoppable joblessness and debilitating value rise and a common apathy to the plight of unusual individuals. The OBC revolt has blown the lid off the BJP’s worst saved secret in UP: Simmering anger on the bottom among the many very teams which are important to the celebration’s dominance.
It’s hardly shocking that the BJP’s reply to the resurgence of Mandal yearnings has been to fall again on Mandir. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s spectacular sound and lightweight present on the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath temple’s grand new hall to the ghats, there’s speak of fielding Yogi Adityanath from Ayodhya to carry the highlight again on the Ram mandir that’s below development.
Yogi’s election rhetoric has been turning more and more communal, his newest salvo being a comment on 80 versus 20, a euphemism pitting Hindus in opposition to Muslims in a battle for supremacy.
Nonetheless a lot the BJP excessive command might need to restrain Yogi to blunt the OBC resentment that’s boiling over, it’s too late. It may solely fall again on Hindutva and Mandir to paper over its shortcomings in supply. And there’s no higher image of Mandir in UP than Yogi.
Nonetheless, it might be unwise to leap to conclusions from current occasions. As of now, the OBC revolt is a small one and has not resulted in an explosion. Additionally Akhilesh has an extended solution to go to really pull off a victory in UP. The BJP’s vote share 5 years in the past was 39.67 % whereas SP’s was 21.82 %. Akhilesh must shave off a minimum of 9 % from the BJP’s votes or tot up 18 % from the BSP’s and Congress celebration’s votes to edge the Yogi authorities out.
It’s a troublesome name. He must brush his Mandal politics with a recent narrative to present it a brand new sheen if he hopes to trump Mandir.
The author is a veteran journalist and political commentator. Views expressed are private.