UP elections 2022: Pipped by Akhilesh, BJP casts its caste net

Among the 43 upper castes candidates, 18 Thakurs and 10 Brahmins figure in the BJP's first list, followed by eight from trading classes


NH Correspondent/Lucknow

In the first list of candidates of Bharatiya Janata Party for Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, which was released two days back, the party introduced its own brand of Mandal politics to counter the allegations that the BJP is anti-backwards when it gave 60 per cent of the seats to the members of the backward and Dalit communities.

In the first list of 107 candidates, mainly for the western Uttar Pradesh region where the farmers were up in arms against the BJP on anti-farm laws, the BJP has relied heavily on Jats to counter the SP-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance.

As many as 44 OBC names, including 16 Jats, figure in the list, followed by 43 upper castes and 19 from Scheduled Castes.

“In the battle between Mandal and Kamandal, it is always the caste which gets better of religion. A striking example is of 1993 when the elections were held at the backdrop of the demolition of Babri Mosque in 1992. On one side was the Hindutava icon of Kalyan Singh, who sacrificed his government for Ram Temple while on the other was the newly found caste alliance of Mulayam Singh and Kashi Ram. The SP-BSP alliance formed the government much to the surprise of the political pundits,” said Manoj Bhadra a political analyst, who has been credited with successfully evaluating elections of UP and Bihar.

He said the BJP knows that it is fast losing support of backwards and after Akhilesh Yadav has successfully poached a number of OBC leaders from the ruling party, including Swami Prasad Maurya, the Samajwadi Party has been able to broaden its social base beyond the traditional Muslim and Yadav vote bank.

The BJP is facing the heat after Swami Prasad Maurya accused the BJP of being anti-backwards and anti-Dalits. To counter this, the BJP has fielded backwards and Dalits from even the general seats, thus sending the message across that this party is not against these communities.

“But in turn, the party admitted that it is skating on thin ice as far as caste equations go and therefore it has fielded over 60 per cent backward and Dalit candidates,” Bhadra said.

The SP-RLD alliance has also fielded a number of Muslims from the region, and the BJP seems to be banking on the polarisation of Jat votes like in the 2017 polls to maintain its dominance.

The BJP's first list also has seven, six, and five candidates from Gurjar, Lodh, and Saini castes and has representation from several other backward castes too. Jatavs, seen as traditional voters of the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, have received 13 nominations out of the total 19 SC candidates in the BJP's first list.

Among the 43 upper caste candidates, 18 Thakurs and 10 Brahmins figure in the BJP's first list, followed by eight from trading classes.

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