As it eyes third term, BJP prepares to hard-sell its track record with OBCs


Santosh Kumar Pathak

New Delhi, Oct 29 (IANS) In the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019, the role played by voters belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the BJP’s victory has now become a focal point for both the ruling party at the Centre and the Opposition to woo these voters.

Several Opposition parties, including the Congress, are attempting to encircle the BJP by playing the caste-based census card.

These efforts are particularly noticeable within parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, where they aim to prevent their OBC vote bank from going to the BJP.

Simultaneously, the BJP is working on its counter-strategy of highlighting not only the fact that they delivered the country’s first OBC Prime Minister but also emphasising that the majority of OBC MPs and MLAs are aligned with the BJP

During a recent election rally in Suryapet, Telangana, Union Home Minister Amit Shah promised that if the BJP forms the government in the state, they will appoint a leader from the OBC community as the Chief Minister. Although this statement was made in the context of the Telangana Assembly elections, but such comments by influential leaders send a message to OBC voters across the country.

To counter Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and other Opposition leaders’ attempts to woo OBC voters, the BJP is also conducting nationwide campaigns.

The BJP OBC Morcha National President K Laxman criticised Rahul Gandhi, stating that he and the Congress have no right to speak about OBCs.

He pointed out that from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and even the UPA government under Manmohan Singh, nothing substantial was done for the SC community. When the Modi government proposed giving constitutional status to the Backward Classes Commission, the Congress, regional and Left-wing parties opposed it in Parliament.

Laxman explained that the BJP was reaching out to SC voters across the country with outreach programmes and meetings with intellectuals from the OBC community, exposing the lies of the Congress and other regional parties with facts and figures.

He highlighted the numerous historic decisions made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the OBC community in the last nine years, decisions that previous governments had never even considered.

BJP National President JP Nadda, Amit Shah, Bhupendra Yadav, Dharmendra Pradhan, K Laxman and several prominent leaders from various states, are all actively promoting the message that the BJP gave India its first OBC Prime Minister.

They are also stressing on his background and the fact that he is from a poor family belonging to the OBC community. Additionally, 85 of the BJP’s Lok Sabha MPs are from the OBC community.

The majority of the MLAs and Members of Legislative Council also belong to the BJP.

Leaders say that the Prime Minister has increased the community’s respect and dignity by making 27 OBC leaders Ministers at the Centre.

The party has provided 27 per cent reservation in central educational institutions and NEET and also launched the Vishwakarma Yojana.

According to BJP sources, the party is determined not to oppose the Opposition’s caste-based census demand. Instead, the party will focus more on listing the work done for the OBC community along with the Prime Minister’s connection to the community.

Moreover, the party has outlined significant plans to extend the benefits of the Vishwakarma Yojana to a large section of the OBC community and to maintain contact with these beneficiaries on a large scale.

On October 9, when the Election Commission was announcing the election dates for five states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Mizoram — Nadda, Amit Shah, and other key leaders, were planning the successful implementation, publicity, outreach, and strategy for taking the Vishwakarma Yojana to the people.

While the BJP has a substantial ace up its sleeve in the form of the Rohini Commission’s recommendations, the government has yet to take a final decision on it.

However, it is believed that if the Opposition parties succeed in swaying OBC voters in the name of caste-based census, the BJP might progress towards implementing the Rohini Commission’s recommendations.

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