SP, BSP play Ramcharitmanas, caste census card for BJP’s OBC, Dalit votes

Lucknow, Feb 14 (IANS)
The Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh including the Samajwadi Party are trying to gain momentum in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, and are raising several issues such as the recent controversy over Ram Charit Manas and the caste census issue to take on the ruling BJP.
According to political analysts, political parties in the state have intensified their efforts to tilt the voters of the OBC community in their favour. In wake of these developments, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya also extended support to the caste census.
BJP’s allies Nishad Party and Anupriya Patel’s Apna Dal (S) are also in favour of the caste census. However, the ruling party is not able to come forward more openly on the issue because of its political compulsions.
If political pundits are to be believed, the Samajwadi Party is attempting to strengthen its hold over the OBCs and Dalits, who have tilted towards the BJP.
Since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has been consistently trying to bring back OBC and SC/ST voters into its fold. Even several leaders who were associated with the BSP’s Dalit movement are inducted into the Samajwadi Party. This includes names such as Swami Prasad Maurya, Ramachal Rajbhar, Indrajit Saroj and Lalji Verma.
Besides this, while Akhilesh Yadav is raising the demand for the caste census, leaders from his party are vocal against Brahminism.
Akhilesh Yadav wants to defeat the BJP by uniting Dalits and OBCs in his favour.
Rajpal Kashyap, the President of Samajwadi Party’s Backward Class cell, says that his party has been demanding the caste census for a long time, to which the BJP government is “not paying attention”.
Kashyap asserts “how the people from backward and deprived castes can get their rights unless their numbers are not known, especially those who are far lacking in their rights, respect and education in the country”.
He said that the Samajwadi Party is going to run an awareness campaign for this across the state. “We will force the government to execute the caste census by transforming it into a mass movement in favour.”
BSP chief Mayawati says that like SC and ST, the demand for conducting caste census of OBCs has gained a lot of momentum in the whole country, but the Centre’s “refusal to do so is affecting the entire society and their future in the same way, like it is hurting them due to non-filling of their backlog in jobs”.
Sanjay Nishad of Nishad Party, a coalition partner of the BJP governme”t in the state, said, “I believe that there should be a caste census. But the discrepancy of castes done by the previous governments is wrong.”
BJP’s Backward Class Morcha President Narendra Kashyap says that the Opposition “does not want to do any work”.
“The focus of the Samajwadi Party, BSP and the Congress is limited to family and corruption. That’s why they raise such issues to remain in headlines,” he added.
Senior political analyst Ratanmani Lal says that the Opposition parties feel that the BJP has strengthened its vote bank among several castes through Hindutva, and the issue of caste census can help them in tilting a big section of the Hindutva vote bank into their fold.
“The Samajwadi Party has been doing politics of minorities and backward people. This strategy is not working much, and that’s why they are engaged in bringing back the most backward and downtrodden classes who have joined the BJP into its fold. It is trying to bring back its slipping vote bank,” he explained.
It may be noted that the politics of Uttar Pradesh has been confined around the OBC community for the past decades. Since the formation of Narendra Modi’s government in 2014, a large section of this class is with the BJP and the party is also trying to retain their faith through its Hindutva politics.

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