Rajender Rajbhar, a high school pass-out, cheers while carrying the symbol of his new caste identity -- a triangular yellow flag of Sahuldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP)--- on a dusty road leading to Mahil, a Rajbhar dominated village in Dawaria district. But, the senior patriarchs in his village are slightly subdued as they are unsure about electoral fortunes of SBSP, contesting about 250 seats in eastern UP.
They, however, agree that Om Prakash Rajbhar, leader of the party formed in 2002, is here to make a mark on UP politics. The eastern UP on average has 18 per cent Rajbhars, most landless labourers, and in some assembly segments like Sehar and Selampur in Ballia district, their share in population is as high as they are as many as 35 per cent. “In 30-50 constituencies if Rajbhars decide to vote for one candidate electoral results can tilt one way,” said Hardeo Ram, former MLA and a local dalit leader. His estimates are based on credible performance of the SBSP in last Lok Sabha
Although Om Prakash Rajbhar, founder leader of th party, terms Ram’s estimate as moderate, the members of the community are, however, confident that the party can win seven to ten seats, that can give the party bargaining power in case of hung assembly. And, he has candidates like former forest minister Rajdhari Kotli and many rajbhars, with known political credentials, thus winning sympathy from the community.
If he gets seven to ten seats, dream of rajbhars like Kumar Rajbhar, a landless labour who earns just Rs 50 a day in village Doasiya, may come true. “I want my son to get a job like other harijans,” he said, pointing that none of the Rajbhars in 100 odd homes in his village have a government job. Those of other communities like Yadavs and Rajputs admit that they are even in worser state that Scheduled Caste, who had gained from the reservation.
Om Prakash has hit the right never with a promise that Rajbhars would be included in Scheduled Caste list and
get similar reservation, if SBSP participates in the government. “We want to end decades’ long injustice to our community,” he asserted. The party has also demand for a Purvanchal state for eastern UP and reservation on economical backwardness than only social backwardness, aimed to woo higher castes. “We want reservation only for those who are really backward irrespective of caste or creed,” he told HT, while accusing both BSP and SP cheating with the poorest in the region, Rajbhars.
Rajbhar’s political opponents like JP Jaiswal, a Congress candidate from Dawaria assembly segment and Rajan Singh, a Samajwadi Party worker, are not impressed and dismisses’ SBSP’s claims with disdain. “His candidates are not even in fray,” Jaiswal charges, but some others in Congress admit that the party would get a sizeable chunk of votes, especially from the BSP candidates.