March 23, 2023

BJP sees UP desertions as design to dent party’s ‘social coalition’ | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: On a day when another UP minister resigned alleging neglect of backwards and Dalits, the BJP leadership acknowledged the seriousness of the effort to dent its sprawling social coalition, but was not ready to hit the panic button yet.
The party leadership is reconciled to the possibility of at least one more minister, Dharam Singh Saini, and at least 5-6 MLAs quitting, and a reiteration of the charge- backwards getting a raw deal- that two ministers of the Yogi government, Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh, leveled while leaving the party. They had crossed over from BSP in the run-up to the 2017 polls.
Sources in the party conceded that the charge – leveled in almost identical resignation letters- of the neglect of OBCs/ MBCs marks a serious effort to split the “grand social coalition” of MBCs , non-Yadav OBCs, non-Jatav Dalits and upper castes, which the then BJP chief Amit Shah had stitched to lead the party to landslide win.
Movement of a significant section of non-Yadav OBCs and MBCs will obviously boost SP leader and former CM Akhilesh Yadav’s challenge. While SP has clearly emerged as the principal challenger, it has struggled to counter the perception about being a Yadav-Muslim enterprise. The stress on the alleged neglect of “backwards” under the Yogi government is also seen as an attempt to counter Hindutva sentiment by putting the focus back on caste, especially the “forward-backward” divide.
BJP sources conceded that the resignations, synchronised with the meeting of BJP’s central election committee for finalising the saffron slate, represented a well-thought out plan that required quick counter-measures.
“They are all leaving for personal reasons. It is also a fact that with a tally of more than 300 seats, we will see more desertions than SP. More so, because of the known intent to drop quite a few incumbents. But the risk of the resignations being seen as collective angst of politically crucial communities is there,” said a source.
Sources also regretted that the party allowed SP to score bragging points instead of moving pre-emptively when the exits had long appeared to be on the cards.
However, they were confident of blunting manoeuvre. The party is already working on counter -measures which may involve more tickets for non-Yadav OBCs and MBCs, induction of other important leaders belonging to these communities and a sharper focus on Hindutva as evident in the hint about the chief minister contesting from Ayodhya.
A senior party functionary said that unlike in the pre-2014 phase, BJP enjoys a support base among the castes represented by those headed out and they are unlikely to leave the party en masse because of the goodwill for welfare schemes and an improved law and order situation, appeal of Hindutva and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal popularity.
“It is interesting to see observers discovering Maurya Ji and Dara Singh. But please remember that they joined after BJP had swept the LS polls in 2014. It is also worth remembering that Prime Minister is a “backward” himself,” remarked a source in Lucknow.
He said that the party has over the last 7 years groomed young leaders who may come in place of those headed out.
“That Maurya was insisting on a ticket for his son who lost in 2017 is an open secret. The leadership may consider fielding a young Kushwaha against him,” said a source.
Party sources also feel that suspicion of SP among non-Yadav OBCs and “most backwards” are deep-seated and have to do with what they call the “built-in” bias for Yadavs and Muslims which constrain its ability to expand beyond its core.
They also underlined that unlike SP, BJP is not required to field a sizeable number of Muslim candidates and that means “we can accommodate more non-Yadav OBCs and MBCs in our list than Akhilesh can aspire to”.

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