OBC resignations in UP a challenge to PM Modi

Devsagar Singh

New Delhi, Jan 14: Spate of resignations, including three ministers, from the BJP in UP have thrown a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s OBC (other backward castes) card on the eve of the assembly elections in the state. Will the resignations open a floodgate ? If it happens, the BJP will find it difficult to retain power in the state and Modi’s popularity may come in for questioning. The PM hails from the OBC category himself.

Sensing trouble from the assertive OBC groups, particularly in the politically sensitive UP,  Modi had inducted as many as 22 MPs from the group in his council of ministers in the last reshuffle a few  months ago. UP alone accounted for six. This did not seem to help much, judging from the recent resignations of senior OBC leaders like Deputy Chief Minister  Keshav Prasad Maurya. OBCs count for nearly 40 per cent of the total electorate in the state.

 It remains to be seen how much dent the deserters make in the OBC voters. The Samajwadi Party to which they are flocking is  seeking to project it as big gain. The fact remains, however, that they are self-seekers. Maurya, for example, wanted  a BJP ticket for his son, it is said. When denied, he quit the party. Others who have resigned  are said to have sensed that they were not getting BJP ticket this time .  Most of them had drifted to BJP from other parties when the going was good. Another senior party leader Rita Bahuguna, once Congress chief of UP, is reported to have threatened to quit BJP if her son was denied party ticket to contest the election.

 Voters are intelligent enough . It is doubtful if they would support them in the elections. Political parties  have, however, begun to sow seeds of division in the OBC and MBC (Maha Backward Castes)  a large of whom supported the BJP in the last election in the name of Modi  who continues to remain popular. Indeed, Modi is the mascot for the BJP not just in UP but in all the five poll-going states.

 For the Prime Minister and the BJP, UP  has a special significance because Modi represents the Varanasi parliamentary constituency,    apart from the state being the biggest  accounting for almost one-sixth of the country. The fate of the BJP and Modi in the 2024 parliament elections depends largely on UP. This explains why the Prime Minister and his party  are leaving nothing to chance as far as UP is concerned.  Modi is spending maximum time and resources on the state.

 If Modi is able to hold the OBC group substantially,   the BJP has a good chance of retaining power, western UP farmers going away notwithstanding.  There are clear signals that the  splinter groups among the OBC are emerging ahead  of the elections in five states  at the instance of Modi baiters in the Opposition.  SP leader Akhilesh Yadav  is seeking to benefit from them. He has already tied up with a number of small non-Yadav, non-Jatav  OBC outfits in UP. He is also trying to accommodate outside parties like Trinamool Congress and the  NCP to rally their leaders’ support.

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