UP polls: BJP's candidate list aims to counter rivals' OBC pitch
With the Samajwadi Party accusing the BJP of being anti-backward castes, the ruling party has deployed its own brand of 'mandal' politics to counter the narrative by giving the group maximum representation in its first list of 107 candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls while banking 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, sources said, with Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is the BJP's in-charge for the state polls, emphasising that his party has fielded Dalits from unreserved seats as well.
While there is no official word on it from the BJP, but its decision to not field Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Ayodhya as widely speculated but from Gorakhpur may have something to do with its caution against its rivals' efforts to define the polls as a battle between 'mandal' and 'kamandal'.
The BJP has been steadfast in its pursuit of Hindutva politics under Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh but has also worked to bring a big chunk of Other Backward Classes and Dalits under its fold with welfare measures of the Modi government at the Centre and giving them political representation.
Facing repeated rout from the BJP in successive polls, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav has successfully poached a number of OBC leaders from the ruling party, including Swami Prasad Maurya, in his efforts to broaden his party's social base beyond the traditional Muslim and Yadav votebank to take it on this time round.
Maurya and a number of OBC leaders have accused the BJP of working against the interests of backward castes and Dalits.
Pradhan also dwelt at length about the large number of poor household beneficiaries from the BJP government's welfare programmes to build houses, provide cooking gas connections and health insurance. He also highlighted its ''better'' track record on law and order and anti-corruption fronts.
Jats may have been at the forefront of the farmers agitation against the three contentious farm laws, now repealed by the Modi government, but the list indicates that the BJP is hopeful of getting their votes in western UP, the region where the agrarian community is concentrated.
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 Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD is also hopeful of cornering a large chunk of Jat votes. The BJP has not fielded a single Muslim in its first list.
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 castes candidates, 18 Thakurs and 10 Brahmins figure in the BJP's first list, followed by eight from trading classes.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)