Despite the saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath being the Hindutva icon for BJP and the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for the last five years, caste politics now appears to be the dominant agenda of the public discourse in Uttar Pradesh. What has happened in the last two days where the OBC ministers and legislators have resigned from the government and the party respectively, is a clear indication that caste-based politics is threatening to upstage Hindutva politics.
Though the Samajwadi party camp is jubilant over the resignation from the BJP in the last 48 hours and confident of consolidating its hold on the OBCs vote bank, the fact remains that what has happened in Uttar Pradesh is because of the prevailing internal contradiction in the ruling BJP.
The arrogance of Yogi and his love for his caste has sent the message loud and clear that this is the government of Thakurs where the backward and Dalits were ignored.
Yogi is Thakur by caste and it is alleged that the majority of the thanedars across the police stations in the state are Thakurs who are reckless and listen to none.
BJP continued to play around the arrogance of Yogi by projecting him as the staunch Hindutva icon. The slogan like Raj Tilak ki karo tyari aa rahen hai bhagwadhari (Get ready for coronation as a saffron clad is coming) were shared widely during the digital campaign which was kicked off two days back.
The party added further doses of Hindutva by adding the masala of construction of Ram Mandir as its achievement and the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath Dham was taken to a mega television show. A new twist was added to this Hindutva story when BJP leaders started talking about Mathura.
In the contrast to it, Samajwadi Party national president Akhilesh Yadav who had contested the 2017 election on the development plank with the tagline of Kaam bolta hai, chose the realpolitik as he shed all inhibitions and joined the caste bandwagon. He started his crusade by first asking for the caste-based census and even gave a slogan of 85 vs 15 indicating that the OBCs were 85 percent of the population while the upper caste was in a minuscule minority of 15 percent.
He followed it up by scouting for new caste-based parties as allies. He even made it clear that Samajwadi Party will never have any trucks with big parties. He even patched up with his estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav to consolidate the backward caste vote bank.
The creation of a large coalition of the neglected, excluded and undocumented backward castes and Dalits could be a game-changer for the Samajwadi Party, Manoj Bhadra, a political analyst said.
On the other hand, BJP’s social engineering tactics meant regrouping of the non-Yadav, non-Jatav OBC and Dalit sub-castes in its favour.
But, what had happened in last two days is clear indication that backwards are now asking for their pound of flesh. They are satisfied with the call of Mandirs or mutts. They want empowerment in true sense where they have an equal share of power. This has crumbled the cookie of Hindutva.
“The ghost of Mandal is out of kamandal and it is set to turn the UP election on its head,” Bhadra said.