24 October, 2020

The Caste Of Poll Saffron

Wary of SP-BSP unity with 2019 on its mind, the BJP has a new poll trick: divide up the OBC quota, pitting the ­relatively better-off ­sections against the rest

Once Lucky
(From left) Anupriya Patel, Keshav Maurya and CM Yogi in Lucknow
Photograph by Naeem Ansari
The Caste Of Poll Saffron
outlookindia.com
2018-05-12T11:04:37+05:30

The national political thermometer may have been showing higher readings from Karnataka by then but, on March 20, a lot of fuel stocks for future heat were beginning to be deployed at a quiet meeting in Delhi. Om Prakash Rajbhar, Uttar Pradesh’s minister for backward classes welfare, had finally got the appointment with BJP president Amit Shah that he had long sought. His agenda: to impress upon Shah the urgent need to slice up the OBC reservation pie in UP. It’s the next big idea in the BJP’s arsenal, meant to counter the potential consolidation against it by a united Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party phalanx.

Here’s how it works. Simply put, the idea is to take the most populous umbrella caste segment in India’s most populous state—OBCs are perhaps 50 per cent of Uttar Pradesh—and put it under the lens. Thus, first distinguish between the great variety of shades on the backward class palette. Then group them in three separate slots according to affinities in socio-economic indices—who is less or more poor, who has less or...

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