BJP gears up to retain hold on reserved seats in UP

Lucknow, March 31 : Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati may claim to be the custodian of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh but it is the BJP that has made inroads into this vote bank.

The BJP won 14 of the 17 reserved seats in 2019 while one seat went to its ally Apna Dal(S). The BSP could manage to win only two seats –Lalganj and Nagina.

BSP MP from Lalganj, Sangeeta Azad, has already joined the BJP while Mayawati has fielded lawyer Surendra Pal Singh from Nagina. The sitting BSP MP from Nagina, Girish Chandra Jatav has been shifted to Bulandshahr.

These 17 seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes in Uttar Pradesh are Agra, Bahraich, Bansgaon, Barabanki, Bulandshahr, Etawah, Hardoi, Hathras, Jalaun, Kaushambhi, Lalganj, Machhlishahr, Misrikh, Mohanlalganj, Nagina, Robertsganj and Shahjahanpur.

The Scheduled Caste or Dalit vote, which is around 21 per cent of the electorate in UP, is broadly divided into Jatavs (11.7 per cent), Pasi (3.3 per cent), Valmiki (3.15 per cent), Gonds, Dhanuks, Khatiks (1.2 per cent) and others (1.6 per cent).

It is only the Jatav vote bank that continues to solidly back the BSP while other Dalit caste groups have shifted loyalties to other parties, including the BJP.

The main reason for the Dalit disillusionment with the BSP is the fact that Mayawati has completely alienated herself from the grassroots cadres and has not even allowed a second rung leadership to emerge within the party.

“When incidents like the one in Hathras take place, BSP leaders do not even venture out of their homes, leaving alone helping the aggrieved families. We cannot meet the BSP leaders when we are in trouble. In such a situation, people are moving to parties that keep their doors open. The BJP is preferred because there is always someone to listen to us and make efforts for redressal,” said Damyanti Valimki, a school teacher from Barabanki.

Her father was a staunch follower of late Kanshi Ram who made him learn typing and got him a job with a local lawyer. She has now joined the BJP along with her family.

Sangeeta Azad, the sitting BSP MP from Lalganj who joined BJP last week, said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have worked for the upliftment of the weaker sections, including Dalits. Impressed by the work they have done, I decided to join BJP.”

Interestingly, the BJP has been consciously reaching out to non-Jatav Dalits, non-Yadav OBCs and upper castes — that have ensured its stupendous victory in the last four polls in Uttar Pradesh, including the 2017 and 2022 Assembly polls.

BJP’s Dalit leaders are holding small meetings in Dalit-dominated areas without any pomp and show. They list the welfare schemes launched by the Centre and state for weaker sections and convince them to support the BJP.

A senior political observer said a large section of Dalits view the past SP regimes as hostile to them and they will not piggyback on the Samajwadi Party.

For the BSP, which once was considered the torch-bearer of Dalits, the scenario is grim in Uttar Pradesh.

“This means good news for the BJP which has been increasing its Dalit outreach with its ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ concept,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *