The OBCs are emerging as key to success in UP elections

Sanjay Nishad has emerged as the new poster boy of OBC politics in UP as all political parties are locked in an intense race to woo non dominant OBCs, who constitute about 35% of the population

Nishad party chief Sanjay Nishad
Nishad party chief Sanjay Nishad

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

On Thursday night a meeting of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was held with BJP national president J P Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi. In the latter half of the meeting President of the Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal (NISHAD) Sanjay Nishad too joined the meeting sparking speculation that BJP may take a big decision about the backwards and Other Backward Castes (OBCs).

“Nishad’s presence in the meeting shows that he might be given an MLC seat and probably a ministerial berth in the Yogi cabinet. Though the next assembly election in Uttar Pradesh is just five months away, the expansion has no meaning but it will have an optic value particularly if the marginalized leader gets a ministerial post,” says a senior BJP leader.

The Nishad leader has emerged as the poster boy of OBC politics in UP as all political parties are locked in an intense race to woo non dominant or non-Yadav, other backward castes, who constitute about 35 percent of the population.

The ruling BJP got a good share of OBC votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 2017 UP Assembly election, and 2019 Lok Sabha polls with the result that it comfortably won elections in this politically sensitive state.

The castes like Sahus, Kashyaps, Sainis, Kushwahas, Mauryas, Shakyas, Pals, Dhangars, Gaderiyas, Kumhars, Nishads, and Mallas are much in demand.

The BJP in 2017 had also expanded its reach among Other Backward Castes (OBCs), by allying with Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) and the Nishad Party in 2019. The SBSP, however, broke off ties after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections although Rajbhar was made Cabinet minister in the Yogi Government and his son and other supporters were given Chairmanship of state-run corporations.

The break-up with Rajbhar has hit the BJP and therefore it has been trying desperately to woo Nishads and other non-dominant OBCs. The presence of Sanjay Nishad in the meeting of the BJP leaders shows that the ruling BJP is ready to bend downwards to keep the OBC and MBC leaders in good humour even if it has to give a few ministerial seats to Nishad.

On the other hand, Samajwadi Party has launched its OBC sammelans (conventions) on August 9. The party has already held such sammelans in central UP and Bundelkhand areas and by next week it will hold meetings in eastern parts of the state, where the population of OBCs is the highest.

“Our focus is also on Kurmis, Mauryas, Sainis, Sahus, Kashyaps and other such OBCs. We are going to ally with the Mahan Dal, which is headed by a Maurya. Our OBC chairman is Kashyap. Om Prakash Rajbhar is also showing interest in allying with our party. In this way, several OBC castes are consolidating in our favor”, said Rampal Kashyap, SP MLC.

One strategy for SP is to give more tickets to non-Yadav OBCs in the coming elections.

The Congress, on its part, has already held several OBCs conventions while Mayawati, state president of the BSP has appointed Bhim Rajbhar as the state president.

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