Amit Shah eats lunch at OBC party worker’s house as BJP woos Yadavs
As part of its OBC outreach programme, the BJP is now turning its focus on the Yadavs in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 general elections.india Updated: Jul 30, 2017 15:37 IST
BJP chief Amit Shah’s lunch on Sunday at a booth-level worker who belongs to the Other Backward Castes (OBC) group in Lucknow effectively conveyed the party’s continued focus on politically dominant OBCs.
Until Sunday morning, there were speculations that Shah would have lunch at a Dalit party workers’ residence – something he regularly had in the run up to the 2017 UP assembly polls.
But the last-minute selection of a Yadav man has its own symbolism in highly caste dominated UP politics.
That is why more than the simple ‘curd, butter milk, rice and pulses’ meal that Shah had while sitting on the floor at 32-year old party worker Sonu Yadav’s Gomtinagar residence, the focus was more on the visible shift in BJP’s OBC outreach plan.
Overwhelmed by Shah’s visit, an emotional Sonu said, “He liked butter milk, a drink available in most Yadav homes.”
Prior to 2017 UP polls BJP had focused mainly around non-Yadav OBCs and that was a main reason why Shah appointed Keshav Prasad Maurya, an OBC, as the state BJP chief. Maurya is also the state’s deputy chief minister.
The backwards, with Yadavs being the most prominent, constitute about 40% of the state’s population. A sizeable chunk of them voted for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and then again in 2017 UP polls. BJP sources say Shah has asked the party to capitalise on the trend ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
After the near-decimation of Bahujan Samaj Party, Akhilesh’s Samajwadi Party that traditionally prospered due to the unflinching support of Muslims and Yadavs is the state’s main opposition party.
RJD chief and former Bihar chief minister is pushing the SP and BSP to be part of the ‘stop-BJP’ grand alliance of which Congress and other opposition parties could be a part.
“Shah wants to disturb the arithmetic by rattling SP with defections and resignations. The idea is to confuse the SP and BSP to the extent that their leadership doesn’t know who is with them and who isn’t,” a BJP leader told HT.
During his meetings that he separately held with ministers and party workers, Shah made it clear that the party won’t hesitate to welcome ‘big’ leaders from other parties into the BJP.
The BJP is closely watching Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav’s next move as the two SP MLCs who resigned on Saturday to help the BJP are from Shivpal faction. More resignations are expected from the SP as Shivpal Yadav has openly warned Akhilesh to hand over the party’s reins to his father Mulayam Singh Yadav or be ready to face the ‘consequences.’ There is a buzz about Shivpal, who met his brother and SP patron Mulayam in Delhi on Sunday, floating his own ‘secular morcha’ to support the BJP.
Saffron strategists are also tuned into another possibility of Shivpal joining Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) and being made the party’s UP chief.