After its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rallies across Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party will now focus on wooing the OBC population in the State, even as the Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh has stepped up efforts to mobilise support for the party in the general elections.
The RSS sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, is on a five-day tour of the State, where he will meet pracharaks and office-bearers as part of the saffron outfit’s annual regional meetings. Mr. Bhagwat is expected to hold a brainstorming session in Varanasi on February 13 or 14, an event likely to be attended by BJP State president Laxmikant Bajpai and other party leaders.
The RSS-BJP leaders are expected to discuss probable candidates, joining of leaders, mergers and other organisational activities in view of the general elections. However, Mr. Bajpai said the RSS meetings were “routine” events, part of its annual programme. On his participation, Mr. Bajpai said: “I will go only as a sangh pracharak, not as State head of the BJP.”
Sources within the RSS also said the outfit was busy “educating” voters and “mobilising” support for the elections by holding door-to-door programmes urging Hindu voters, especially the youth, to ensure that they obtained their voter cards. The organisation is banking on the polarisation of votes on communal lines. To woo the OBC community, the party will hold a month-long social justice programme in all districts of the State beginning February 15. The programme will kick off in Saharanpur.
While the BJP is looking to popularise Mr. Modi’s humble background and OBC credentials to woo the community, it also hopes to polarise votes between Muslim and non-Muslim OBCs. “The backward classes will be made aware how they are losing out to the vote bank politics of minority appeasement. Muslims belonging to the OBC already get reservation, so what’s the need for reservation on the basis of religion as the Samajwadi Party wants? These attempts are merely to consolidate the vote bank and the OBC will be made aware of such wrongs,” said Vijay Bahadur Pathak, BJP chief spokesperson. The party is particularly aiming at polarising in its favour the non-Yadav OBC votes, and will project leaders from these communities along with other upper caste leaders.
For this purpose, the party, which has stressed that it would go solo in the State, is considering mergers with smaller caste-based parties. One of the speculations doing the rounds in U.P. is the possible alignment of the BJP with the Rashtriya Lok Dal, which is fighting to keep intact its Jat-Muslim vote combination after the Muzaffarnagar riots.
According to sources, the RLD is under pressure by the khaps to merge with the BJP. Incidentally, the BJP is wooing the khaps by providing them greater representation in its meetings.
The BJP is expected to launch the former Mumbai Police Commissioner, Satyapal Singh, who joined the party last week, against RLD chief Ajit Singh for the Baghpat seat.