The Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court on Thursday banned caste-based rallies and conferences in Uttar Pradesh — a state where politics is driven by caste.
“We stay caste-based rallies throughout the state of UP,” the court said, issuing notices to the Centre and state government, the election commission, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.
A bench of justice Uma Nath Singh and justice Mahendra Dayal passed the order on a public interest litigation of filed by local lawyer Motilal Yadav, who had sought a ban on such rallies, saying they were against the basic concept of the Constitution.
In the last two decades, caste politics have played an increasingly crucial role in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats — the highest in the country.
Yadav said there had been a spurt in caste rallies with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections due in 2014. He said political parties were dividing the society by trying to woo voters on caste lines.
This year, the opposition BSP got off the blocks with 38 Brahmin conferences in May-June. This culminated in major Brahmin rally in Lucknow on July 7, which was addressed by BSP chief Mayawati. The BSP has also held a series of Muslim Bhai Chara conferences.
The ruling SP too held a “Backward Class Mahasammelan” in Meerut on July 8. The party had also organised a Muslims’ conference recently.
In the absence of any well-defined data, a rough estimate of UP’s caste combination is backward classes 52% (as per the Mandal report), Dalits 18%, Brahmins and Thakurs 5% each, Muslims 17% and remaining 3%.