Akhilesh Yadav has just bowled a googly in Uttar Pradesh, in a step that seems to be straight out of his father’s playbook. Akhilesh Yadav has notified that 17 Other Backward Class (OBC) castes of Uttar Pradesh shall be notified as Scheduled Castes (SC). This has been termed as a political masterstroke by politicians across the spectrum. No political party can object to this as the 17 OBC castes that have been notified are actually important to every political party.
These castes include Kahar, Kashyap, Kewat, Majhi, Machua, Mallah, Nishad, Kumbhar, Prajapati, Bind, Bhar, Rajbhar, Batham, Gaur, Dheemar. These castes when put together form a huge political constituency and cannot be ignored by any political party. No politician in his right mind will oppose the reservations as it will be politically suicidal for them to do so.
The BJP is the party that is in a fix. It is the central government that has to approve the notification sent by the UP government, but if they do it, the Samajwadi party (SP) will take credit for it and if they don’t, the SP will again accuse them of being anti-people. If they delay the announcement, the SP will again accuse them of being anti-people.
The BSP too cannot oppose this as some of these castes were staunch supporters of their party at a point of time. There may be some who still support them. Any wring move could result in them alienating voters
With the news of the Congress-RLD-SP alliance being almost final, the BJP is sure to face a tough fight in the upcoming UP elections. Despite the family feud that was on public display recently, the SP seems to have gotten its act together and may now be a serious contendor for power.