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Party is set to hold outreach programmes to promote the bill, wants cadre to stop opposition ‘efforts’ to polarise SCs, STs and OBCs against it. 

New Delhi: Be it agitating Patidars in Gujarat or Jats of Haryana threatening a stir for reservation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) believes it now has an antidote for them all.

The party, facing the heat from various caste groups demanding reservation, believes that the Modi government’s bill, providing 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward among upper castes, will help douse the anger of many communities ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

It now plans to hold outreach programmes to publicise the “well-intentioned” bill.

“In 2017, just ahead of the Gujarat assembly polls, the Patidars agitated for reservation. In Haryana, Jats too are threatening to launch an agitation if not given reservation. We believe that the cabinet approval to the quota bill for the poor of every caste has sent the right message to various communities especially those upset with us,” said a senior BJP leader on the condition of anonymity.

“We will definitely go to the people with this bill hailing it as the solution to their woes regarding quotas,” the leader added.

Sources in the party said that it will approach community leaders of several castes such as Patels, Jats and other upper castes to explain the benefits of the proposed reservation.

Sources in the party also believe that the cabinet decision will douse the resentment against the BJP among the upper castes, especially in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress, increasingly set to contest alone, is likely to eat into this voter base.

‘Opposition narrative false’

There is, however, apprehension within the BJP that the opposition will stoke feelings of resentment among Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

“They (Opposition) first said that we are anti-Dalit despite our outreach programmes. Despite strong reactions from upper castes, we restored provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention Of) Atrocities Act in wake of the Supreme Court ruling,” the senior BJP leader said.

“Now, when we stand for the poor in all communities and religions, the opposition doesn’t like it. They have begun the narrative that poor from other castes will eat into their quota share that is totally false,” the leader added.

On Monday, the Union cabinet cleared 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward in the general category, which according to a senior minister, will be over and above the existing reservation. For this, the government has decided to bring amendments to Article 15 and Article 16 of the Constitution that mandates equal opportunities to all.

Also read: Five reasons why the BJP’s upper-caste quota gambit could backfire

Bill to dominate BJP’s national convention

The government’s decision is expected to dominate the BJP’s two-day national convention scheduled for 11 and 12 January.

Party leaders and cadre are expected to be told that they will have to thwart any attempt by the opposition to create confusion among SCs, STs and OBCs that the new quota bill will eat into the existing reservation system.

Senior leaders, sources said, will be told to tour their regions of influence and explain the government decision. “Moreover, cadre will also thwart any attempt by the opposition to mislead SC/ST/OBCs on the issue by interacting with these communities,” the senior leader said.

Also read: BJP’s 10 per cent reservation for upper castes is votebank politics, but will face legal issues

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