Caste-based parties may take on bigger roles in alliances

SP also seems to acknowledge importance of this block which, before Modi's advent on national stage, was largely part of its support

Updated - September 27, 2023 11:41 am IST

Published - March 10, 2022 08:22 pm IST - NEW DELHI

SBSP president Om Prakash Rajbhar with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. File

SBSP president Om Prakash Rajbhar with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. File | Photo Credit: PTI

From last year itself, the battle in Uttar Pradesh seemed to hinge on whether or not the non-Yadav OBC block that had voted for the BJP in 2014, 2017 and 2019 (Assembly and Lok Sabha polls) would stick to the party or not. The Samajwadi Party (SP), in its strategy, also seemed to acknowledge the importance of this block which, before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's advent on the national stage, was largely part of its support.

The Apna Dal (Sonelal) with an appeal to the Kurmi community, was a party that was one of the first to strike out on its own in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and it joined the BJP in 2014. In this poll too, the party stayed with the BJP although its breakaway faction, the Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) joined a coalition wrought by SP leader Akhilesh Yadav.

The Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), which counted on the support of the Rajbhar community and fought the 2017 Assembly polls with the BJP, changed tack and joined the SP coalition.

U.P. Election Results 2022 | As it happened

A new entrant, the Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal (NISHAD) party, which appealed to the Nishad community, joined the NDA.

Leaders of communities such as the Maurya, Shakya, Chauhan communities in the BJP (nearly 10 sitting MLAs of the BJP, including three ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government) flocked to the SP from the BJP and were given ticket to fight the polls. Most of these battles on the “pichda” (backward) community votes was in eastern U.P.

The performance of these parties and individual leaders reflects what happened to this 35% block. The NISHAD party, which was fighting on 16 seats, won nearly seven (at the time of writing) and the Apna Dal (Sonelal) was en route to winning 11 out of the 17 seats it was contesting. The SBSP fought 17 and was winning six seats.

The prominent individual leaders of the BJP who joined the SP just before the polls were a mixed bag. Swami Prasad Maurya, who fought from Fazilnagar lost his poll, but Dara Singh Chauhan, fighting from Ghosi, was leading at the time of writing.

MBCs role

According to Prashant Trivedi, professor at the Giri Institute in Lucknow, the pattern of results shows that MBCs (Most Backward Communities) have given more success to the single caste-based parties that individual candidates from their castes fighting on the ticket of the bigger parties.

"MBCs are looking at a long-term horizon and have a strategic goal in mind. The single caste-based parties are basically bargaining for a share in State resources, and have specific issues like reservation, government jobs on their agenda, which they feel can be negotiated through caste-based parties rather than single individual leaders part of a bigger party like the BJP or the SP," he said.

While the BJP has seen much of the non-Yadav OBC stick with them, the movement of the SBSP to the SP from the NDA fold points to more bargaining ahead.

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