Congress, BJP bear brunt of Upper caste, OBC anger

The eight-day-old strike by about 18 lakh State government employees in Uttar Pradesh against reservation in job promotion for the SCs and STs was called off on Thursday, but not before the agitators staged a dharna before the BJP headquarters here objecting to the party’s support for the measure.

Shailendra Dubey, president of the Sarvjan Hitaya Sanrakshan Samiti, an organisation of Upper Caste and OBC officers and employees, told The Hindu that the strike was called off as the Lok Sabha, which was supposed to vote on Thursday on the 117th Constitution Amendment Bill providing for reservation, was adjourned sine die.

Mr. Dubey said a State-level meeting of the Samiti would be held here on December 23 to chalk out a strategy. The government employees would join duty on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Aarakshan Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (Save Reservation Action Committee) of the Scheduled Caste/Tribe officers and employees has also convened a meeting of its office-bearers for that day. Convener Avdhesh Varma said protest meetings would be organised in the constituencies of those MPs from Uttar Pradesh who are opposed to the promotion quota.

Even as government offices remained paralysed during the past eight days, it was the Congress and later the Bharatiya Janata Party which incurred the wrath of the strikers. From pulling down hoardings of prominent leaders to raising slogans, staging demonstrations at party offices, throwing eggs, rotten vegetables and shoes, and drawing graffiti on party vehicles and walls of residences of party leaders, the upper caste and OBC employees were quite vocal in their protest.

On Thursday, supporters of the Sarvjan Hitaya Sanrakshan Samiti staged a daylong sit-in at the BJP headquarters on Ambedkar Marg and protest meetings at the party office gate. A heavy police force had been deployed there. Protest meetings were also held at the nearby GPO Park.

Alarmed at the possibility of the party losing its Upper caste and OBC support base, a BJP delegation led by State unit chief Laxmi Kant Bajpai met national president Nitin Gadkari in Delhi and apprised him of the political situation. The agitating employees were emboldened by the stand taken by Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh against the Bill.