A day after the BJP supported the 117th Constitutional Amendment Bill providing reservations in promotion to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, voices of dissent have begun to surface within on the political fallout of the party's stand.
The concern: this would alienate the party's upper caste base, particularly in Uttar Pradesh.
"We shouldn't support an unconstitutional move. The Congress motive is to divert attention from its failures and corruption. There isn't any need for the BJP to back such a move," the party's Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath told HT.
BJP UP spokesperson Satyadev Singh, too, said the move would "disturb social harmony".
Concerns were voiced during the BJP parliamentary party meet on Tuesday, with some leaders suggesting the party's support for the move would be politically damaging.
BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said there were various positions on the bill, but added that party leaders explained it had been changed substantially on the BJP's intervention. The context: the government had agreed to let promotion quotas be consistent with administrative efficiency — as per article 335 of the Constitution — and had assured that general and OBC officers wouldn’t be demoted due to the proposed law's retrospective effect since 1995.
A BJP MP from UP told HT: “The party is non-existent in half of India, and in the other half upper castes are its prime supporters. Can we alienate this base — particularly in UP — for the Dalit vote that anyway doesn't come to us?” The leader also rued that the SP could wean away a chunk of upper castes — apart from OBCs — through its opposition to the move.
But senior BJP leaders say the party could not have opposed a move promoting the welfare of SC/STs. There are considerable SC/ST populations in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat, they explain. The move also ideologically helps cement the cross-caste Hindutva bond, and is an answer to criticisms that the BJP is an upper caste party.