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BJP hopes to revive fortunes in UP through OBC mobilisation

PTI 17 Apr 2016, 11:40:46 IST
PTI

New Delhi: BJP is pinning its hopes on large-scale mobilisation of non-Yadav OBC vote bank, which stood it in good stead in Uttar Pradesh for much of the 1990s, to revive its fortunes in the key cow belt state, with the appointment of a Koeri caste leader as its state unit chief.

The BJP expects Keshav Prasad Maurya to rally a strong section of other backward caste voters round it, while hoping that his Hindutva background will help keep the party's core constituency in good humour as well.

BJP had held a preeminent position in the country's largest state for a decade under the leadership of Kalyan Singh, a backward Lodh caste leader with a strong Hindutva orientation, and it was Singh's estrangement with the national leadership that set the party on course to its decline there.

Party leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a social alliance of upper castes and a strong section of backward castes in its favour alone could help it stage a comeback in state where two big regional parties, SP and BSP, enjoy a solid and steady support base.

They are hopeful that forward castes, who constitute alittle more than 20 per cent of the electorate and had drifted away, will plump for BJP if it emerges as a strong alternative to the SP and BSP in 2017 polls.

Maurya's Koeri caste background is seen as an advantage as it is numerically strong in the state.

The party has maintained a silence on whether it will announce a chief ministerial candidate like it did recently in Assam.

BJP had made a stunning sweep of the state in the Lok Sabha polls as the 'Modi wave' resulted in an unprecedented consolidation of voters in its favour and helped it reap a handsome electoral harvest of 71 out of 80 seats in 2014.

Party leaders concede though a repeat of such a feat is virtually impossible now, cobbling together a strong caste-based electoral arithmetic coupled with Hindutva factor is the way ahead for them.

Both SP, which is in power in the state, and Mayawati's BSP are seen to have regained much of the ground they had lost in 2014.