Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini — two of the three ministers who recently resigned from the UP cabinet along with six BJP MLAs — joined the Samajwadi Party on Friday along with many other leaders and former MLAs of the OBC caste.
The entry of these leaders has become a shot in the arm to the SP‘s non-Yadav OBC strength in its larger effort to redefine itself as a party that stands for all backwards and Dalits and not just for the Muslims and Yadavs.
Maurya maintained his stand on the alleged instances of “discrimination” being carried out by the UP government and called the elections a battle of “85 versus 15” — 85 standing for backwards and Dalits — refuting CM Yogi Adityanath’s remark a few days back that the elections were a battle between “80 versus 20” (interpreted by experts as a means to polarise the Muslims who constitute roughly 20% of UP’s population).
“It is the Dalits and backwards who form the government and these 5% upper castes get to enjoy the benefits,” Maurya said. “You give a slogan of 80 versus 20. I say, it is 15 versus 85 where 85 is ours and there is also division among the 15,” Maurya said.
“You say you will win on the Hindu card. If you are a Hindu sympathiser, then why did you swallow the constitutional right of reservation to SCs, STs and OBCs and commit a sin? In the recruitment of 69,000 assistant teachers, the government appointed general category candidates to 19,000 reserved seats. Yogi ji, are SCs not Hindus? Are 54% OBCs not Hindus?” Maurya said.
Yadav said the entry of Maurya and other leaders has “boosted the morale (of SP)” and there is still a large number of leaders yet to join. Yadav said the resignation of the leaders and their joining the SP had been a “well kept strategy” that the BJP could not catch a “whiff of”, or they would have gone into damage control.
While the BJP has been trying to dub the exits as one brought about by discontent due to tickets being denied, experts feel it is also a turning point following which individual caste identity assertion may once again take centrestage after the BJP had successfully tried to unite the castes under the concept of Hinduism during the 2014, 2017 and 2019 elections.
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