Parties start wooing Dalits in U.P.
All political parties are wooing Uttar Pradesh’s substantial Dalit vote-base ahead of next year’s Assembly elections. To reach out to the Dalits—who, the Congress thinks, are their traditional voters, before they were “hijacked” by the BSP—Rahul Gandhi addressed a Dalit convention in Lucknow on Thursday. The Lucknow convention was part of the Congress’ celebrations across the country of the 125th birth anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar. The Congress has also started a Bhim Jyoti Yatra programme in UP, which will continue until the Assembly elections. BJP president Amit Shah too will hold a Dalit convention in Lucknow in the second week of March. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go to Varanasi on 22 or 24 February to participate in the Sant Ravidas Jayanti being celebrated by Banaras Hindu University. The Aam Aadmi Party is also eyeing the UP polls, so Arvind Kejriwal too will participate in the Ravidas Jayanti celebrations in BHU. Even Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president and Hyderabad MP, Asaduddin Owaisi fielded a Dalit candidate, Pradeep Kori, in the recent Bikapur Assembly byelection in Uttar Pradesh, although Kori lost. Mayawati, known as the “Dalit queen”, is holding conventions of the Dalit sub-castes.
Mulayam playing inter-caste marriage card
Mulayam Singh Yadav is banking on the social combination of Yadavs, Thakurs and Muslims to return to power. As the recent byelection results showed, the Samajwadi Party’s Muslim vote bank is under threat. The Congress won the Muslim-dominated Deoband Assembly seat, defeating the SP. As his grip over Muslims loosens, the SP supremo is trying hard to get the Thakurs to vote for his party. He is now set to re-induct in the party the expelled Amar Singh, a Thakur. Mulayam is also deftly playing the Thakur card through marriages. Both his sons, Akhilesh and Prateek are married to Thakur women. In fact, Prateek got married in 2011, just ahead of the Assembly elections in UP. This time, another marriage has been fixed, between his nephew Aditya Yadav and a Thakur girl from Azamgarh. Aditya is the son of Mulayam’s brother Shiv Pal Yadav, and the girl is the daughter of Amar Singh’s relative Sanjay Singh. The wedding, which was fixed by Amar Singh, will take place on 30 March.
It’s Yadavs all the way in U.P.
Resentment is high against the Yadav clan in Uttar Pradesh, for promoting only their community members. Sample this. Out of the 74 heads of zila panchayats, 36 are Yadavs. Out of the 31 Samajwadi Party MLCs, 17 are Yadavs. Out of the 14 SP Rajya Sabha members, eight are Yadavs. The five Lok Sabha MPs are, of course, all Yadavs.
Samajwadi Party decimated in polls
Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, which swept the Assembly polls in 2012, has been decimated in Uttar Pradesh. The party managed just the Bikapur seat in Faizabad out of the three sitting SP seats in the recently held bypolls. The BJP won the Muzaffarnagar seat. The Congress, which won the Deoband seat after 26 years, should not be very happy as it did not work for this victory which is said to be the result of the hard work of Maulana Arshad Madani of Darul Uloom Deoband and president of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. Congress’ Deoband victory is being seen as a setback for the Samajwadi Party as it can no longer bank on Muslim votes.
Nitish in a dilemma over filling Rajya Sabha seats
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is in a dilemma over filling the five vacancies created by the “retirement” of five Rajya Sabha members from the state. JDU spokesperson K.C. Tyagi, who is not a Bihari, will not get re-nominated to the Rajya Sabha. The “grand alliance” can only get four out of five MPs elected to the Upper House. While the BJP is eligible to get only one MP, the “grand alliance” has four seats in its quota. Nitish has to share two seats with his “big brother” Lalu Prasad Yadav who has a larger share in the alliance, with 80 MLAs. Nitish has 71 MLAs and Congress 27. Out of the 71 MLAs, Nitish can get only one clear seat and that is for JDU president Sharad Yadav. For the fourth seat, Nitish needs the support of the Congress which, too, is bargaining to get one MP. However, JDU sources claim that former IAS officer, R.C.P. Singh, Nitish’s adviser and friend who served Bihar as a principal secretary, will surely get re-nominated to the Upper House, as Nitish has successfully struck a deak on this with the Congress.
Panel seeks 27% job quota
The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has advised the Centre to bring a bill to provide 27% reservations to OBCs in private sector jobs. This will be in addition to 23% reservations for Dalits. The issue of 23% job reservations for Dalits is already pending with the government. It was part of the Congress manifesto in 2004. The UPA government had appointed an expert committee in 2005 to take a view on the issue. In UPA-II, the Manmohan Singh government had appointed a Cabinet panel to finalise things, but he was ousted from power. Early this week, NCBC member Shakeel-uz-Zaman Ansari wrote to the heads of all political parties requesting that a bill providing 27% job reservations to OBCs be passed in the forthcoming Parliament session.