For the upcoming Assembly elections, all major political parties in Uttar Pradesh are counting on caste as the default way of getting votes.
Caste seems to be appearing as a major tactic for the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Ram Manohar Lohia, Freedom fighter had highlighted that Indian politics is like a policy of an insurance company. You do not have to invest any premium. Caste may be used as premuim and it will yield back the premium with good returns and added interest. Political parties are forming new methods of influencing the communities for the upcoming elections.
Parties in Uttar Pradesh have their on ‘base votes’ i.e. the votes of a caste which is powerful under a particular party. Parties are finding the possibility of ‘stepney caste votes’ to add to their base votes by trying to enter into various kinds of collaboration with different castes. India’s democracy is converting into a ‘castocracy’(jatitantra).
One of the strategies to get stepney votes is by forming alliances with parties that are based on caste. Many castes have formed their political parties based on caste and formed alliance with bigger political players such as BJP and SP .
Keenness To Make Alliance
BJP has an alliance with Apna Dal, party of the Kurmis and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party party of the Rajbhars. Rumours are that BJP is trying to form similar alliances in eastern U.P. with the Janvadi Party and other small parties that are famous among MBC castes such as Lonia, Nonia, Gole-Thakur, Lonia-Chauhan and Dhobhi. SP is expected to form alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal, party of the Jats.
BJP is aiming on the non-Jatav Dalit votes and non-Yadav backward caste votes to add to their upper castes. To please party’supper caste vote base, BJP is offering them organizational level representation at the and showing its commitment towards Brahminical-Hindutva agendas such as Ram temple construction in Ayodhya.
BJP is targeting backward castes and Dalit castes. BJP is attracting these castes by providing organizational representation, organizing caste-based rallies, celebrating festivals in the memory of their heroes and constructing their temples.
For the first time it has made sure about the reservation in posts in the various party committees from booth level to the State level and assigned responsibilities to Dalits, backwards and women. By making Keshav Prasad Maurya as its State unit president. Party has hinted the importance of castes such as Maurya, Murav and Kachhi.
Amit Shah, BJP president has been attending caste-based rallies . He recently attended rallies of the Maurya and Patel castes at Andawa in Allahabad. At another BJP’s rally in Allahabad, Modi mentioned Nishad Raj (deity of the Nishads) at least three times focussing Nishad, Mallah, Kewat communities.
BSP is aiming at Dalit-Brahmin agreement besides looking to form a Dalit-Muslim alliance. Mayawati plans to offer tickets to Brahmins in good numbers in the upcoming elections. She has also tried to control party’s Dalit and backward caste leaders’ from criticizing Brahminical rituals and traditions.
From supporting the cause of Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay in the past and focusing on the disadvantaged communities . She is now supporting ‘Sarvajan Hitay, Sarvajan Sukhay’ line. BSP provides all castes representation from the booth level to the State-level committees but without compromising on Dalit and OBC representation.
BJP is looking to get Mayawati’s core Dalit vote base. Mayawati is working on a strategy of keeping her support intact by stimulating the ‘Dalit Bhaichara’ campaign in the reserved constituencies.
She has also put a stop to such campaigns in general constituencies in order to attract voters of other castes through Bhaichara Samiti campaigns. In Lucknow, at the meeting Maywati told party leaders and grass-roots workers not to assume that Dalit votes will automatically come to BSP candidates in her name.
SP forced to change their strategy
SP’s big win in the last elections was built on Yadav-Muslim support. But this time the anger of Muslims towards the party is clear. SP is giving most importance to the MBCs. Party has been trying to give Scheduled Caste (SC) status to several communities since 2005 when Mulayam Singh Yadav was the Chief Minister.
State government made amendments in the Uttar Pradesh Public Services (Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Classes) Act, 1994 to include 17 castes in the SC category. The move did not get the Central government acceptance. Akhilesh Yadav has also been rejected twice. But SP is carrying on with the demand. The party’s Brahmin is also on looking on with its celebrations of Parshuram Jayanti and its Brahmin Sammelan.
As the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are going to begin soon. It is evident that caste as a tool to get votes has not lost its importance in India’s most-populated State.