To rope in OBCs, BJP uses Kushwaha
Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 09, 2012
Even as he preferred to stay out of the BJP till he proved his
"innocence" in a health scam, former UP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha
has pledged support to the saffron party in UP to buttress the OBC
quota. He said this was necessary to prevent the quota from being
drained off to the
The BJP, seen as an upper-caste party, is planning to attract Hindu
OBCs this time by opposing the carving out of a separate 4.5% backward
minorities' quota from the 27% central OBC quota pie.
Kushwaha, who was family welfare minister in the Mayawati government,
had been dropped on charges of involvement in the National Rural
Health Mission scam and then expelled from the BSP.
It is Hindutva wedded to social justice this time, with the BJP
defending the "Hindu backwards" against the Congress's "Muslim
It is in this sense that cosying up to Kushwaha as well as granting
the party ticket to Lodh leaders Sakshi Maharaj and Chhatrapal Singh
makes political sense to the BJP.
As the Yadavs are strongly with the Samajwadi Party, the BJP's prime
electoral targets are three non-Yadav OBC castes: Lodh (Uma Bharti's
caste), Kurmi (Vinay Katiyar's caste), and Kushwahas (the same as
Koeris and Kachhis), an agrarian caste of east UP and Bundelkhand
tracing its roots to Kush, the son of Lord Ram.
A rally of BJP president Nitin Gadkari near Jhansi on Thursday saw
people in about 200 jeeps - each bearing the caste name Kushwaha -
reaching the venue, and about 300 local Kushwaha leaders joining the
The BJP senses this as an opportunity to cash in on any latent feeling
the community may have of being "wronged" over the "harassment" of
Kushwaha by BSP chief Mayawati and a "Congress-controlled" CBI.
"We are specially focusing on the most backward castes and Ati-Dalits
this time, and about 218 constituencies having these castes in good
numbers have been identified for special attention," said BJP leader
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
A BJP leader said a combination of upper castes and non-Yadav OBCs -
which the BJP had when Lodh leader Kalyan Singh was the party's face
here - could help the party beat a somewhat resurgent Congress, which
is aiming at the Muslims and a section of the OBCs.
According to the last authoritative caste count, the 1931 census,
non-Yadav Hindu OBCs form 31% of UP's population.
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