By Faisal Fareed, Twocircles.net
In the ongoing UP polls, if there is one party which has played its cards well in attracting votes from the Most Backward Castes (MBC) in Uttar Pradesh, it is the BJP.
In a smart move, the BJP has roped in Bharatiya Samaj Party and Apna Dal (Sonelal) with an eye on Rajbhar and Kurmi voters. These communities are spread across eastern UP, where the upcoming phases of elections will take place. The strategy is simple: attract non-Yadav MBCs in its fold. By aligning with these parties, BJP has clearly struck an edge with its rivals.
In past few years, the BJP led by Om Prakash Rajbhar has increased its reach within Rajbhar community. Their ideologue is Raja Suhel Dev, a little known 11th century Bhar-Pasi King. The BJP banked upon him and cultivated him as an icon among the community.
And with this, OP Rajbhar also developed good foothold among his community. In 2012, he contested the poll in alliance with Qaumi Ekta Dal on 46 seats but could not win any seat. However, the party’s vote share surprised many political parties. In all the seats, their candidates got between 17 ,000 and 50,000 votes. The performance had set alarm bell ringing among political parties and BJP forged an alliance. It was estimated that the votes which Rajbhar’s party got was where his community has a strong presence. According to estimates, Rajbhar community have a strong influence in over 154 seats of Poorvanchal, where they have population of 10,000-80,000. And due to this, the BJP did not hesitate in leaving eight seats for Rajbhar’s party. The seats include Zahoorabad and Jakhaniya in Ghazipur, Ajgara in Varanasi, Mau Sadar, Baansdeh in Ballia, Ramkola in Kushinagar, Shahganj in Jaunpur and Mehnagar in Azamgarh.
Similar is the case with Apna Dal (Sonelal) who have influence over Kurmi voters in Varanasi, Pratapgarh, Mirzapur, Allahabad area. In 2012 Anupriya Patel, daughter of Sonelal Patel won from Rohaniya seat in Varanasi and BJP immediately forged an alliance with her in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Two seats were left for her and Anupriya won from Mirzapur and Harivansh Singh won from Pratapgarh. Anurpiya was inducted in ministry. This BJP has played the cards smartly. And in 2017 BJP did not think twice in giving 11 seats to her party. The seats include—Soraon, Handia, Pratappur in Allahabad, Vishwanathganj, Sadar in Pratapgarh, Sewapuri in Varanasi, Chhanbe in Mirzapur, Dudhi in Sonbhadra, Shohratgarh in Sidharthnagar, Mariyahun in Jaunpur and Jahanabad in Fatehpur.
Only the results will tell the strategy of BJP to align with these smaller parties after the response from these communities.