The BJP is literally sweating it out to woo the backward castes of western region for the first phase of Uttar Pradesh elections on April 7. Sixty-two of the total 403 seats are at stake where Jats and Gujjars dominate.
The BJP is hoping to consolidate its support base by snatching votes that have traditionally gone to the Samajwadi Party and the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal.
The saffron party believes that the anti-incumbency factor is working strongly against them. The RLD was until recently enjoying power under the SP rule.
BJP leaders admit, however, that it is not an easy task though they are hopeful of success. That is because Kalyan Singh’s Rashtriya Kranti Party, which had won one seat and stood second in 4 others in the last polls, has merged with the BJP. Kalyan had actively campaigned against the BJP last time. Today, Kalyan Singh is BJP’s OBC icon who has been projected as the Chief Minister candidate.
Also, the BJP has put up as many 10 Jats, nine Jatavs, six Gujjars, two belonging to the dhobi community and one to the Valmiki community. Eleven Rajputs and six Brahmins are also in the fray.
“The support base of the Ajit Singh-led RLD has shrunk in the Jat villages,” said Ravishankar Prasad, former Union Minister and BJP in-charge for the region. "Mulayam Singh Yadav’s influence on the decline and Mayawati’s BSP has a base but needs additional support.”
According to Prasad, the key questions, which were applicable to the region, were what is the extent of decline in support for Mulayam and how the anti-BJP forces have been galvanized against the saffron party. “We do not see much of a unity of anti-BJP forces here.”
Prasad said, in the last polls held five years ago, the SP had won the maximum number of 24 seats and was a runner up in 17 other Assembly constituencies in the region.
“That was the SP’s best result. Given the mood of the electorate, we doubt whether Mulayam can repeat the figures,” he said.
The BJP won 16 and stood second in 17 whereas the BSP had won 14 and stood second in 18 other constituencies.” He said the BJP managed to show a “sizeable presence” in 33 constituencies and BSP in 32.
The Congress had won 4 seats and stood second in 6 others, and the Ajit Singh-led RLD had won 2.