After Brahmins it’s non-Yadav OBCs which are talked of in UP as this chunk of OBC voters have been decisive in BJP’s victory in the state. The OBC comprises of around 43 per cent of the total votes and have castes like Kurmi, Maurya, Shakya, Kushwaha, Nishad and Rajbhar among others.
The votebank was primarily with SP and the BSP but shifted to BJP post 2014 and it has promoted leaders like Swatantra Dev Singh the state BJP Chief and a Kurmi, Keshav Maurya, deputy CM, Swami Prasad Maurya and have alliance with Apna Dal, a Kurmi based party and Nishad Party, but Samajwadi Party is also not going to leave any stone unturned to attract this segment in the state.
Rahul Varma, a Delhi based analyst says, “Non-Yadav OBCs will be crucial in determining the final tally. We have better sense about how other communities are likely to vote. The BJP since 2014 has managed to get a larger share of non-Yadav OBC vote, but the same can’t be said about 2022, especially because the SP is attracting lots of important leaders from this community into its fold.”
But Varma concedes, “However, I think the BJP will find ways to retain a large chunk of non-Yadav OBC support base.”
The OBC mobilization has helped the SP and BSP who mostly rely on caste based equation and from 1989 to 2017 the OBCs have dominated the UP politics. The SP had Mulayam Singh Yadav and Beni Prasad Verma and leaders from Shakya community and Phoolan Devi from the Nishad community while the BSP had Lalji Verma, Swami Prasad Maurya, Babu Singh Kushwaha, none of them are with BSP any more.
In the OBC politics post Mandal era, Yadavs benefited greatly from the government formed under SP. But less significant backward caste groups such as Kurmis and other OBCs were excluded from their share. The ignorance led to the disenchantment among non-Yadav OBCs, whom the BJP tapped well and latter became solid vote bank with representation from lesser known community like Khatik, Paasi and Charwaha (shepherd) which has given the BJP strength and advantage.
In recent ministerial induction in the state and at the Centre, the BJP has adopted the social engineering formula with S.P.S. Baghel and Kaushal Kishore being inducted into the Union Council of ministers.
As per rough data, it suggests that BJP managed to pull 60 per cent of OBC votes and it rose threefold from last assembly elections to 2017 elections, but it’s not the main OBC Yadav chunk but the smaller OBC groups have inclined towards the saffron party. The BJP first made inroads in 2014 elections and has increased its share considerably in subsequent polls.