New Delhi: Months ahead of the UP assembly election, the Modi government is all set to publish a booklet that will highlight not only the Constitutional Amendment Bill passed in the Parliament last week, but the measures it has taken for the welfare of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) community in the past few years.
The Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, which gives states and union territories the power to identify and notify their own OBC list was adopted with a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha last week. It was a rare instance of support from the entire opposition in a Parliamentary session that had otherwise been a washout due to continuous disruptions over a host of issues, including the Pegasus spying allegations and farm laws.
According to BJP sources, the booklet being prepared by the government will be shared among BJP ministers, Members of Parliament, and party leaders to highlight the work done by the government for the welfare of the community ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh election next year in which the OBC vote may be a game-changer.
“As per our estimate, the OBC population is around 40-50 per cent and hence is a major factor in the Uttar Pradesh election. At the same time, non-Yadav OBCs constitute at least 35 per cent of the state’s total population. Apart from the constitutional amendment which will help the states draw up their own list, our government, for the first time, has decided to provide 27 per cent reservation in all India quota medical seats. These are important decisions and we need to publicise them,” said a senior BJP leader.
Govt initiatives recently taken for OBCs
Last month, the central government had decided to apply OBC reservation in the all-India quota (AIQ) for medical seats, both at the MBBS as well as post-graduation levels. OBC quota in the AIQ for medicine has been a long-standing demand of the community.
During the course of the debate in Parliament, several opposition leaders linked the passage of the bill to the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. A BJP leader, however, said they hope to benefit from the work it had done for the community so far in the upcoming polls.
“OBCs are an important group and they played a major role in our victories in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Unlike the opposition which talks eloquently about the welfare of SC and OBCs, it is our government that has actually worked for their welfare and it is surely going to help us in the Uttar Pradesh election,” said the BJP leader.
With the BJP’s rivals in UP, especially the Samajwadi Party (SP), trying to draw attention to the government’s delay, and silence, in conducting the caste census, BJP members said they are “confident” of being able to tackle the issue by highlighting the measures taken for the welfare of OBCs.
BJP’s new ministers have already begun highlighting these efforts in the Jan Ashirwad Yatras recently launched across different states, including poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
However, one of the major causes of concern for the BJP is whether the non-Yadav OBCs will consolidate and vote for them or if there will be a split in the vote bank.
“The SP is confident of getting the support of the Yadavs. The BJP was able to come to power due to the support of the non-Yadav OBCs last time … so they will try their best to work their support base,” said the second BJP leader quoted above.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)