Political hot potato or not, BJP knows sacked BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha is key to wooing the 31% non-Yadav Hindu OBCs in Uttar Pradesh, especially in context of the union cabinet’s approval to 4.5% sub-quota for minorities within the 27% OBC quota.
Kushwaha, who was ousted by chief minister Mayawati for alleged involvement in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, launched his campaign for BJP on Thursday from Farrukhabad, where union law minister Salman Khurshid promised 9% sub-quota for Muslims within the OBC quota.
Change has come rapidly into Kushwaha’s life, but the constant is his reluctance to speak to the media — a trait evident since his BSP days. But he made an exception and spoke to HT after his first public pitch for BJP. Excerpts:
Are you enthused by the turnout?
It is your job to assess the impact. I am merely campaigning for a cause. The rights of OBCs (other backward classes) cannot be snatched away.
Your induction into the BJP (Kushwaha later asked for his membership to be kept on hold till he proved his innocence in the health scam) led to a virtual revolt within the party…?
I don’t think that was the case. I think it was the media that made me appear like a villain. Mere sar pe seengh toh nahin lage hain (I don’t have horns on my head). I am a simple man.
You are under the CBI scanner in the NRHM scam. Are you prepared for arrest?
It doesn’t matter. Let it (CBI) arrest me. I am not on the run. Am I?
What made you join BJP?
BJP was ready to support me on my stand against the 4.5% minority sub-quota.
Will you attack your former political boss and make some revelations?
Right now I am in a hurry. Please spare me. I promise I will talk to you in detail later.