Saturday, January 07, 2012

BJP ready to live with Kushwaha baggage

Explains it away as part of strategy to woo OBCs in UP
New Delhi: The BJP has at last found a way to defend its decision to induct the controverisal former BSP minister in UP, Babu Singh Kushwaha. Party spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman said on Friday that the BJP wants to protect the interests of other backward classes (OBCs) and Most Backward Classes (MBCs), and that the induction of Kushwaha is part of the party's political engineering.
She said that the charges against Kushwaha have to be proved and the party will take a call as and when his involvement is nailed.
The party has released an official statement from Uma Bharati denying media reports that she is not happy with the Kushwaha induction and that she would not campaign for the party after Jan 9 (Monday). Asked about the reservations about party leaders like Maneka Gandhi and Kirti Azad on Kushwaha, sources said that the dissenters will be taken into confidence and told about the party strategy.
“OBCs feel that their benefits are being taken away because of the policy of minority appeasement adopted by the Congress,” Seetharaman said. She was referring to the 4.5 per cent reservation for the backward classes among Muslims announced by the central government on the eve of the UP assembly elections. The quota for backward class Muslims will be part of the 27 per cent reservations earmarked for othe OBCs, and this is being tacitly resented by the backward class groups like the Yadavs.
According to sources in the party, though there was discussion and there was divergence of opinion when the policy was formulated by the high command, the party in its wisdom has taken the decision to woo the OBCs and the MBCs and there was no going back on it despite the Kushwaha set back.
Apparently, the upper caste constituents of the party now recognise the social reality that the upper castes lone will not be able to win enough seats to come to power, and that the party needs to extend its social base.
Interestingly, the BJP as well as the Congress are wooing the OBCs in a determined manner, trying to wean the non-Yadav OBCs away from Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP). Some of the Congress-watchers are sceptical about this because they feel that the Congress never could enough OBC votes ever, and that it had largely dependent on Brahmins-Dalits-Muslims combination, which has now been appropriated by the BSP.
This is not thew first time that the BJP is reaching out to a segment of the OBCs. Both Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati, who are Lodhs, are prominent non-Yadav OBC faces. But the party wants to increase its OBC bench strength.
With these electoral, caste compulsions, the BJP is set to take the unremitting criticism about the Kushwaha episode from the media and from Congress with stoic forbearance.

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