Thursday, December 30, 2010

[ZESTCaste] To regain OBC votes, SP looks to Gorakhpur

To regain OBC votes, SP looks to Gorakhpur

Sanjay Singh Posted online: Thu Dec 30 2010, 03:25 hrs
Lucknow : The Samajwadi Party's decision to hold its three-day state
conference in Gorakhpur beginning February 10 has much to do with its
chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's concern about his declining significance
as a leader of Other Backward Castes (OBC) and Muslims in eastern
Uttar Pradesh.

For the last two decades, the region has been a major source of
political strength for the party. At present, 50 per cent MLAs in the
SP legislature party are from eastern UP. Out of the 22 seats it has
in the Lok Sabha, nine MPs were elected from this region in the 2009

The selection of Gorakhpur as venue comes at a time when strong
regional political outfits like Peace Party of India (PPI), Janwadi
Party (JP), Bhartiya Samaj Party and Ati Pichhara Varg Mahasangh are
badly damaging SP's prospects in the area. While PPI enjoys good
support among the Muslims, particularly the poor, JP and Bhartiya
Samaj Party have their political bases in Chauhan and Rajbhar castes.

Things have worsened for SP in the wake of expelled party leader Amar
Singh's ongoing padyatara in favour of a separate Purvanchal state
comprising 147 Assembly and 28 Lok Sabha seats. Mulayam has always
opposed such an idea.

The last time SP had held its state conference in eastern UP was in
1999. The meet was organised in Deoria district. "In the last one
decade, it had preferred places like Agra, Meerut and Kanpur," said a

Against such a backdrop, the SP is finding it difficult to restore its
lost votebank. According to insiders, through this state session, the
party aims to mobilise its workers among the OBC and minority
community. During the meet, it plans to give due importance to all
leaders representing the region.

Admitting that the emergence of regional outfits in the region is a
source of worry for the leadership, party MLA Ambika Choudhari said:
"By selecting Gorakhpur, the party has certainly sent out a strong
message about its concerns for the problems faced by the people here."
The party will pass its political-economic resolution at the state
session, he added.

"By the time the 2012 Assembly elections will begin, the regional
outfits will not remain such important political forces. It was a
phase and such outfits came up. We will make the people realise that
such forces are meant for damaging our mission to end Mayawati Raj,"
said party spokesperson Rajendra Choudhari.

The leaders of the regional outfits maintained that Mulayam's decision
to hold the state conference in Gorakhpur is a reflection of the
party's desperation to bring back OBC voters into its fold.

"The Gorakhpur session is not going to give any relief to Mulayam
Singh Yadav. Gone are the days when he was considered to sole leader
of OBC in this region. His politics is confined to only a particular
caste," said Dr Sanjay Chauhan, president of Janwadi Party. His party
had bagged good votes in Lok Sabha seats of eastern UP.

Bhartiya Samaj Party president Om Prakash Rajbhar said Mulayam has
ditched the poor people belonging to the OBC. "Time has changed and
one cannot fool the voters," he said. According to him, regional
outfits like PPI, Janwadi Party and Bhartiya Samaj Party have joined
hands to contest the 2012 Assembly elections.

The Bhartiya Samaj Party had fielded 21 candidates in the last Lok
Sabha elections and bagged over 50,000 voted in constituencies like
Chandauli, Ghosi and Varanasi.

The president of PPI, Ayub, is also not surprised by Mulayam's move.
"We are not a threat to anyone. We want to ensure smooth transfer of
power in the hands of the people who are really poor," he said.


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