BJP's rainbow coalition of upper caste, backward and Dalits crumbling
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party got a major setback when a tall OBC leader representing the numerically dominant Kushwaha, quit Yogi’s cabinet throwing hints that he would be joining Samajwadi Party
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party got a major setback when a tall OBC leader representing the numerically dominant Kushwaha, quit Yogi’s cabinet throwing hints that he would be joining Samajwadi Party. This switch is an indication that the rainbow coalition of upper caste, backward, and Dalits which the BJP had stitched assiduously has started crumbling.
The importance of Swami Prasad Maurya could be gauged from the fact that after his quitting Government three more BJP lawmakers, all non-Yadav OBC leaders, resigned from the party. They have shown their loyalty to Maurya and claimed that they will swim with Maurya. The indications are many more such desertions are to follow.
The revolt by these OBCs leaders against the BJP leadership ahead of the crucial UP assembly elections has come as a shot in the arm for the opposition Samajwadi party. Akhilesh Yadav twitted a picture of himself with Maurya and wrote: “Saamajik nyay kaa inqalab hoga, baaes me badlav hoga (There will be a revolution in the field, or social justice and there will be change in UP).”
The sudden political development caught the BJP leadership which appears to have grown complacent after three back-to-back electoral successes in 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2017 UP assembly elections.
The resentment among backward against the Chief Minister Yogi is not new. The anger was simmering for the last couple of years. There is an impression that the BJP government is pro-Thakur because Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath belongs to that caste. The words started spreading that backward is ignored.
Even the Deputy Chief Minister in the Yogi cabinet, Keshav Prasad Maurya showed his annoyance the way backward was being ignored. The RSS leadership placated him and early last year, Yogi along with senior BJP leaders had lunch on meeting with Maurya at his residence. The indications were that “everything has been sorted out” but the meeting failed to douse the anger of the backward.
Political analysts, however, point out that the BJP in the last eight years with its social engineering politics along with the benefits through `Direct benefit transfer’ (DBT) believed that it has upstaged the caste-based identity politics.
“The BJP leadership believed that the members from the SC and the OBCs are no longer attracted on caste lines. It is believed that the economic needs of this section have been fulfilled by the Narendra Modi and Yogi Adtyanath government in the last five years through free distribution of food grains,” said Manish Sharma, a political analyst.
“In fact, BJP mis-read the trend. Free distribution foodgrains does not lead to empowerment of any caste. It is a feel good factor for shorter period of time but at a longer run, it proved detrimental for the party,” he said.
The way OBC leaders are leaving BJP is not a good sign for the ruling party. Particularly when an election beguile has been sounded. Because leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya and his colleagues still command clout in their respective communities and enjoy ideological weightage.
The voters from the OBCs and SCs will face the dilemma on the day of voting whether to respond to the traditional optics of caste appeal or go with the politics of economic and social empowerment. The Yadavs are already with Samajwadi Party and after leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya, has joined SP, now Akhilesh has become the focal point around whom the backward politics will revolve now.